The self-driving concept has far-reaching implications for shipping and commerce

This week, three connected and autonomous Mercedes-Benz Actros trucks headed out from Stuttgart on a two-day, cross-border convoy drive to Rotterdam. They were taking part in the European Truck Platooning Challenge, organized by the Dutch government. These smart trucks have the potential to make the transport of goods more efficient, sustainable and safer in the coming years.

The trucks used the Highway Pilot Connect system, which allows electronic docking by vehicles on motorways and long-distance highways, known as platooning. Connected vehicles traveling in a platoon need a distance of only 15 meters between them instead of the usual 50. This smaller gap between the vehicles produces a significant reduction in aerodynamic drag, so a platoon of three trucks can achieve a fuel saving of up to 10 percent and reduced CO2 emissions.

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