It is 2 pm on April 4, 2016. Two orange trucks with the lettering 'MAN Truck2Truck' are standing at the MAN Truck Forum in Munich, Karlsfeld, and are ready to go. Josef Lachheb and co-driver Xaver Römersperger have already taken a seat in the front truck. Andreas Resch and Stefan Jerg are just getting into the truck at the back.
Journalists have gathered at the entrance of the MAN Truck Forum and are waiting for a prominent guest from Berlin: German Transportation Minister Alexander Dobrindt will give the green light for the pioneer trip to the Netherlands. Within the framework of the European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016 - an initiative of the Dutch government that currently holds the EU Presidency - various European truck manufacturers are sending their trucks from their home towns to Rotterdam. One extraordinary fact about the trip is that the trucks are connected in platoons via digital data transmission driving behind each other automatically at a short distance. Platooning concepts are becoming more and more important on an international scale. They reduce CO2 emissions, save fuel, relieve drivers, and increase roads safety.
Good to go! Minister Dobrindt pushes the red button on the podium in front of the MAN Truck Forum together with Andreas Renschler, CEO of Volkswagen Truck & Bus GmbH, and Joachim Drees, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus AG. This is the starting signal for the drivers: Mr. Lachheb starts the truck in front, Mr. Resch follows in the vehicle behind. Both trucks pass the starting line and turn into the street. After a few meters, Mr. Lachheb in the truck up front takes control over both vehicles. The truck at the back closes up on the truck in front until they only have 13 meters between them and begin to connect digitally. They are now paired in a platoon bound for Rotterdam.
13 hours and 880 kilometers later, the platoon arrives at its destination at 3 am. The technological idea has worked out: the vehicles almost managed to stay in a platoon from Munich to Rotterdam the entire time. On April 6, 2016, all truck manufacturers present their platooning systems at a major event at the harbor of Rotterdam. Project manager Daniel Heyes and his team are content. Mission accomplished!
Read the interview with MAN project manager Daniel Heyes and his team =>