Volvo Trucks and Waberer’s International Nyrt tested self-driven trucks in normal traffic on a 50 km stretch of the M1 motorway.
The self-drive test involved three trucks using platooning technology. This technique involves only one active driver sitting in the leading truck which is followed by the rest of the vehicles in the convoy connected by wireless technology. Nevertheless, a passive human driver was seated in each truck of the convoy to avoid potential panic from onlooker drivers on the way. The trucks drove on the M1 motorway at the Lebeny junction and they got off onto the M85 at Rábapatona.
State Secretary for traffic Róbert Homolya of the National Innovation Ministry emphasized before the test drive that we currently witness a major technology breakthrough comparable only to the invention of steam engine or the combustion engine. The test track near Zalaegerszeg and the M76 motorway will be made capable of testing self-driven vehicles in traffic.
In Central-Eastern Europe it is currently Hungary where self-drive vehicles are being tested in line with the industrial development ambitions of the country. Sections of the Zalaegerszeg test track will be ready to use from 2018, and by 2020 the track will become fully functional.
Commercial director Péter Dér of Volvo Trucks emphasized that platooning technology makes road haulage safer, more environmentally friendly and more economical. Platooning results in shorter reaction time, consequently it becomes easier to avoid accidents. Furthermore, the trucks use less fuel and, as a result, emit less pollutants into the air. The additional advantage is that such a convoy needs only one driver.
Mr Dér told MTI (the Hungarian News Agency) that the platooning technology is currently still in the testing stage, and its introduction necessitates regulatory coordination among the countries concerned. Realistically speaking, in 4-5 years the technology will be ready to be applied in logistics centres, but its application in public road haulage is not yet in sight. Acceptance by the public and appropriate road network are also inevitable preconditions, Mr Dér added.