Scania announced a partnership agreement with Finnish company Ahola Transport to implement semi-autonomous platooning on Nordic roads—the first such customer agreement in Europe for semi-autonomous truck platooning on public roads. The partnership will also focus on developing other new transport technologies related to driver assistance.
Ahola Transport Oyj will utilize Scania trucks and technology on Finnish motorways to test semi-autonomous platooning formations with three or more connected trucks. During these tests, drivers will man all trucks. However, the driver in the first truck will control the entire platoon; the following trucks are driven autonomously.
In order to deploy new transport technologies broadly, public acceptance and legislation need to be developed in parallel; trials in actual traffic situations and varying weather conditions are therefore essential. This agreement represents a significant step towards commercially viable semi-autonomous platooning.
For us it is important to enhance our drivers’ work situation with help of new technology. The planned solutions also help us to meet customer expectations for faster deliveries and environmental targets. Our association with Scania started with the first truck back in 1959 and we are pleased to extend cooperation to new solutions.—Hans Ahola, CEO of Ahola Transport
In combination with platooning, new driver assistance functions will enable on-time delivery through optimized route planning and speeds for improved transport efficiency. In addition to the positive environmental effects of an improved traffic flow, the lower drag achieved through platooning reduces fuel consumption and thereby carbon emissions.
These new technologies also have the potential to enhance the role of the truck driver, Scania suggested. Since the lead truck controls the platoon, drivers in following trucks can, for example, perform administrative tasks. With more flexible regulations for driving time and rest periods, this could open increased opportunities for long-haulage drivers to return home instead of sleeping in the truck.
This marks Scania’s second customer agreement on truck platooning. The first was announced in January 2017, and is with the Singapore Ministry of Transport and the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA Corporation). That project entails truck platooning on public roads while transporting containers between port terminals in Singapore. (Earlier post.)
The aim is to organize convoys of four trucks—with the following three trucks behind the lead truck autonomously driven,—as well as to fully automate the processes for precise docking and undocking of cargo.