Six brands of automated trucks—DAF Trucks, Daimler Trucks, Iveco, MAN Truck & Bus, Scania, and Volvo Group—have hit the roads in Europe as part of the European Truck Platooning Challenge.
The challenge send a dozen of these autonomous trucks over 2,000 miles of public roads alongside traditional cars and trucks in four countries to help push self-driving technology forward.
The trucks are equipped with state-of-the-art driving support systems – one closely following the other to form a platoon with the trucks driven by smart technology, and mutually communicating.
They're connected by wifi and can leave a much smaller gap between vehicles than when humans are at the wheel.
Platooning can reduce fuel use by up to 15%, prevent human error from causing accidents, and reduce congestion, according to a study by research firm TNO, as reported by Quartz.
The event, which was set up by the Dutch government, pulled together everyone with a stake in getting self-driving trucks on the road, Quartz reported. That includes transportation officials, truck makers, executives of companies with significant logistics needs (including Unilever and DHL), and academics and researchers.
"We now have huge energy in the network and the idea is that we will go to real-life cases. Companies like Unilever are planning to start these cases in 2017," says Dirk-Jan de Bruijn, the platooning challenge's program director.