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build up a lot of test mileage

Peloton is not the only company looking at autonomous truck convoys. A test project known as Satre (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) has just been completed in Europe. Convoys of trucks and Volvo cars were driven in formation at distances of just four metres apart.

Tough tests

I wondered about safety. What if something goes wrong with the system? Switkes says he has faith in the technology. “The car each of us drives each day has numerous systems that are safety critical,” he says, giving the example of stability control, which can apply brakes selectively to control or limit sliding. If it went wrong it could actually cause a vehicle to spin, but the systems are well designed and rigorously tested.

Google's new self-driving car is not the only vehicle that could be driving itself on future roads (Google)
The technology is ready to move beyond the track trials we have seen elsewhere around the world, and is now hitting the roads.

Peloton has just completed a 6,000-mile (10,000km) test in Texas with the US Department of Energy, and in total has covered around 15,000 platooned miles (24,000km).

“The nice thing about trucks is that you can very quickly build up a lot of test mileage because they are driven so many miles,” says Switkes.

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