Platooning may be on the cards in Australia

The NTC is looking at autopiloted road and rail vehicles as part of its new work plan

Platooning may be on the cards in Australia
Platooning has been tested out in Europe and the US


‘Platooning’ may be set for a National Transport Commission (NTC) examination as ways are explored to make the transport industry more productive.

The practice whereby a number of driverless trucks or cars in a line are linked telematically to a driven lead vehicle, platooning came to prominence in Europe in 2009 with the Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) project.

It surfaced again in 2011, with test track footage shown in this country of Volvo’s SARTRE involvement, and in 2012 with Scania explaining its link with the Swedish National Road and Transport Institute for a road trial in Sweden.

They came around time when mining company Rio Tinto revealed it would introduce driverless dump trucks in its Western Australian mines.

Little has been heard in Australia in the intervening time but, this year, there have been concrete developments in the Netherland and the US.

The Dutch testing regime comes by way of a collaboration involving Paccar’s DAF subsidiary, the Rotterdam port authority, the Dutch Association for Transport and Logistics and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO).

The Dutch are gearing up for a five-year testing program that has government support.

Last month, in the US, reports surfaced of Californian firm Peleton Technology testing a platooning solution in the neighbouring and less populous state of Navada.

Now the NTC says it will be "exploring how Australia can best prepare for the introduction of autonomous road and rail vehicles".

The point appears in an announcement last week regarding "longer-term reform directions identified in consultation with governments and industry".

Details of how far and deep the NTC’s thinking has gone on the issue are scarce but the organisation has receive an ATN request for more information.


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