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Autonomous Mercedes-Benz Actros Trucks Travel Through Europe

Automaker participates in Netherlands European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016.

Automaker participates in Netherlands European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016.

A convoy of three autonomous Mercedes-Benz Actros heavy-duty trucks began a two-day journey from Stuttgart, Germany to Rotterdam, Netherlands as part of the Netherlands European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016. The event was initiated by the Netherlands government as part of its EU-Council Presidency.

“Driving in a convoy is one of numerous examples to raise the performance of goods transport extensively with connected trucks,” said Wolfgang Bernhard, head of the Daimler Trucks & Buses Division, on the occasion of the departure of the three trucks in Stuttgart. “Today already 365,000 commercial vehicles of Daimler are connected. We are consequently pushing this development.”

Bernhard was on hand as the drivers began their two-day journey from the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart. The convoy will travel from the museum to the port of Rotterdam via the A81 Heilbronn highway to the A61 and A67 highways across the German states of Baden-Wrttemberg, Rheineland-Palatinate, and North Rhine-Westphalia towards Venlo for passing the border into the Netherlands.

The challenge is intended to research and improve cross-border convoys of commercial trucks. Via autonomous driving, trucks can transport goods more efficiently, thus driving economic growth. The heavy-duty Mercedes and Daimler trucks feature Highway Pilot Connect, which adds electronic vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) networking cross border technology to the automaker’s Highway Pilot autonomous driving systems.

The technology “electronically docks” the trio of trucks on roads and highways to travel together in a convoy or platoon. Each vehicle is separated by only 15 meters (49 feet), instead of the typical 50 meters (164 feet), Daimler says. The closer traveling distance reduces aerodynamic drag similar to drafting in racing for a 10 percent increase in fuel economy, according to the automaker. Additionally, the closer traveling distance reduces the overall length of the three-truck convoy from 150 meters (492 feet) to 80 meters (262 feet), freeing up road space. The system is also said to have a reaction time of just 0.3 second versus 1.4 seconds for the average human, making it a safer form of transport.

Source: Mercedes-Benz