A fleet of about 12 self-driving trucks from six manufacturers for the first time completed a trip across parts of Europe this week to meet a challenge hosted by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.
The caravan traveled from manufacturing facilities in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and Sweden to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. A semi-trailer from Volkswagen's Scania subsidiary traveled furthest, more than 2,000 miles across four national borders.
The autonomous trucking technology includes a vehicle-to-vehicle communications system from NXP Semiconductors called RoadLINK. It employs wireless communications plus NXP radar technology so trucks in a convoy can securely exchange information in real time and automatically brake and speed up in response to the lead truck. The high speed of communication and responsiveness of the autonomous system enabled very close distances and synchronous driving between the platooning trucks. The trucks are networked with Wi-Fi so they can brake faster than a human driver could.
Navistar International's Darren Gosbee says the European event is a significant milestone, but widespread use of autonomous truck fleets requires more development, especially in terms of redundancy and failure mitigation.
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