This morning, a fleet of self-driving trucks arrived in the Dutch port of Maasvlakte, completing a cross-continent journey that organizers say demonstrates the future of transport in Europe. The experiment is known as the European Truck Platooning Challenge, and involved trucks from six different manufacturers traveling in miniature convoys.
A driver in the lead vehicle of each convoy sets the speed and the route, while the other trucks follow automatically, a Wi-Fi connection keeping their braking and acceleration (but not steering) in sync.
This isn’t a fully-automated system, but it’s a clear step toward this goal and has tangible benefits of its own. Platooning, as the method is known, could mean less congestion, fewer accidents, and reduced fuel consumption.
A whitepaper from Dutch research firm TNO says that each truck in a platoon — both those following and those leading — uses on average 10 percent less fuel per journey. The same report notes that 90 percent of driving accidents are caused by human error, and although a full analysis of the safety of platooning has yet to be undertaken, the suggestion is that automation would lead to fewer crashes.
So, the truck four from the front, for example, passing an intersection, led by the front truck with driver, is hit by a vehicle crossing the other way or ploughs into the corner of a parked car ready to come out into traffic which it does not detect, as it is stationary and all trucks are responding the same way the lead driver is.
And the things the truck responds to are fed in the computer – nothing outside of that is responded to, which comes down to some programmer thousands of miles away.
And for what? For vested interests to show off about driverless vehicles. All these crap stats about people causing accidents – yes they do but they also prevent them with last split-second decisions the driverless cannot.
As for this heavily controlled experiment on certain roads – law enforcement had the whole thing kettled along the way. What happens when this goes mainstream and there are no protective measures any more.
Driverless Truck: But it was irrational of that human to do that.
Car driver: I just wanted to make that light.
DT: Irrational. Human must not do this.
Judge: But he did. There are humans on that road as well as machines.
DT: Irrational. Prepare to die. Exterminate! Exterminate!