Nearly a dozen trucks recently completed a week of mostly-autonomous driving across Europe. The trucks set off from three separate bases in European countries arriving at their destination in Rotterdam.
Their journey was part of a research and development project involving autonomous vehicles, intended to create greater business advantages for mining & construction firms. One of the trucks, made by Volkswagen, travelled more than 2,000 kilometres (1,242 miles) navigating four international borders along the way. The trucks were all from major manufacturers like Volvo, Daimler and Volkswagen and were taking part in the European Truck Platooning Challenge.
“Platooning” is a formation (called “drafting” in the US) where each truck follows closely behind another to cut down on wind resistance and fuel consumption. The formation reduces fuel use by up to 15 percent and can help to reduce congestion on roadways, according to a study by research firm TNO. The results can be quite significant — two trucks logging 100,000 miles annually stand to save more than €6,000 ($6,844) in fuel costs.
In the longer term there are wider implications for the insurance industry. For example, driver distraction and fatigue are major causes of accidents. Distraction causes as many as 22% of accidents while fatigue 20%, according to official statistics. In the case of fatigue alone this led to 431,000 injuries in the UK alone in 2014.
The combination of cost saving and potential reduction in risk and claims could quite literally be ‘drivers’ to a revolution in the fleet market.
Read more interesting reports and statistics on distracted driving here.
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