Listening to the road user is crucial

March 16, 2016 319 keer bekeken

‘The 6 April landing of the European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016 marks the start of the next stage in launching truck platooning Europe-wide.’

Kai Feldkamp, programme director Smart Mobility, and Dirk-Jan de Bruijn, programme director European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016 have been with Rijkswaterstaat for some time already. Feldkamp adds that smart mobility and truck platooning can have a major impact on road users. ‘So, I think it’s important to involve them in these developments and listen to their wishes and concerns.’

Co-creation

Truck platooning is being realised as a co-creation, with Rijkswaterstaat managing the process. ‘The stance required here is quite different from that of commissioning party’, says Dirk-Jan de Bruijn. ‘The situation now is that Rijkswaterstaat has a connecting, stimulating and boosting role. Market parties and Rijkswaterstaat made contact at an early stage to ensure that the project would be a joint success. The Challenge combines scientific technological developments with real-life out on the road. Hopefully, in a couple of years from now Rijkswaterstaat’s role as connector and booster just won’t be necessary: by then the market will have made a success of truck platooning and Rijkswaterstaat can confine its role to that of road authority.’

Cross-border transport flows

The Challenge involves truck platoons crossing national borders for the first time. That’s good news for the economy. Given that the Netherlands is an international transport hub, partly thanks to the Port of Rotterdam, the country wants to provide its hinterland with top service. Meanwhile, social and economic shifts are producing different transport flows. De Bruijn: ‘To take an example, the success of web shops has prompted a massive stream of packages, which have to be delivered across Europe. And the rise in Sunday retail opening means the shops need to be stocked with fresh products, which, in turn, creates new and increased logistic moves. So, how are we going to fix this with a smart answer? The question gets more urgent as the economy recovers apace.’

EU-presidency – Dutch chances

De Bruijn takes the narrative further: ‘Quite soon the Challenge will give us information on the stumbling blocks to be overcome for cross-border truck platooning. To this end, we take a good look at agreements reached on matters like distance and speed and how these can be fine-tuned. Standardisation of ITS systems is part of this – to avoid individual truck manufacturers using their own system, which would prevent trucks from different brands driving together in a platoon.’ Kai Feldkamp adds to this: ‘As chair of the European Union, the Netherlands can position these issues high on the political agenda. Smart mobility is very important to us, and it will be a main focus of attention during the Informal Transport Council, where the European transport ministers will be discussing it, alongside green mobility.’

Important role road users

From the road users’ perspective truck platooning will not mean a new outlook on a day-by-day basis. After all, trucks already drive in a row, although with truck platooning there can be an even smaller distance between vehicles. Digital connection means that the trucks in a platoon all brake together. This could make it safer for trucks to drive close together. As Feldkamp stresses: ‘We need to know how road users feel about “in your face” truck platooning. We’re going to get to know their needs, in-depth. Listening to the road user is crucial. So, among parties closely involved in discussions here is the ANWB.’