800px-Mercedes-Benz_Actros_truckSix convoys of self-driving trucks made by largest manufacturers arrived in Rotterdam’s harbour Wednesday taking part in the Truck Platooning Challenge: Europe’s first cross-border challenge involving automated trucks. Organisers say the experiment will revolutionize future road transport on Europe’s busy highways.

More than a dozen self-driving trucks made by six of Europe’s largest manufacturers- Daimler, IVECO, Scania DAF, MAN and Volvo- are taking part in the European Truck Platooning Challenge, organized by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment as one of the big events for its 2016 presidency of the European Union.

“Truck platooning” involves two or three trucks that autonomously drive in convoy. The vehicles are connected via wireless and there is a leading truck determining route and speed. The trucks brake at the same time and always maintain the same distance between them. Trucks are travelling to Rotterdam from cities including Stockholm, Stuttgart, Gothenburg, Munich and Brussels.

The objective for all six participants is not a race- it is not about who gets the final destination first but demonstrating the advantages of truck platooning.

According to Dutch Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen, truck platooning will “ensure cleaner and more efficient transport.” He also reminded that “self-driving vehicles contribute to road safety because most accidents are caused by human failure.”

Eric Jonnaert, president of the umbrella body representing the six participating manufacturers, hopes that the concept will signisicantly aid traffic flow on Europe’s heavily congested roads.

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