Platooning: the Implications on Operations, Maintenance and Driver Behaviour
Thomas Grahamslaw, Mouchel Consulting Ltd, Paul Marsh, Mouchel Consulting Ltd
Smart Motorways has helped manage and reduce congestion, once the additional capacity created has been exceeded, platooning provides a new operating regime. What are the key implications for network operations, maintenance and safety?
With large numbers of vehicles now operating on strategic roads becoming ever more connected, autonomy is almost upon us. The introduction of Smart Motorways to the UK network has helped manage and reduce congestion on key strategic routes. Once the additional capacity created by Smart Motorways / Freeways has been exceeded, platooning provides a new operating regime which will further create capacity on heavily congested sections of the network. Platooning is a stage of autonomy currently being testing and assessed in relation to its feasibility and application to the Strategic Road Network (SRN) in the UK as well as in other territories internationally.
This paper identifies the key implications for current operational procedures and the potential impacts to network operators. It considers the current approaches to maintenance and how these could be affected; would less roadside infrastructure mean less maintenance? Could the introduction of platooning have a significant impact on how drivers behave? It looks at some of the issues and hazards that need to be considered and mitigated against in order to achieve a successful performing regime which meets its objectives of reducing congestion and improving safety.
The paper determines that the introduction of platooning on the network will have a significant impact on how drivers behave and this affects how the network is operated and maintained. The introduction of Smart Motorways to the UK SRN has relieved congestion but when those sections of road exceed capacity then platooning could provide the answer to help manage traffic flow. The concept of continuing to provide a controlled environment is key to a successful scheme and platooning provides this despite the requirement for less roadside technology and infrastructure. There are clear benefits as a result of including platooning on the network – operational and maintenance requirements should reduce and there are clear benefits in terms of managing congestion and improving safety on that section. However when one looks into the detail of how drivers behave in a platooning environment it can be seen that there are existing and new hazards which will require appropriate mitigation. Platooning is an important operating regime which will allow the network to eventually operate with full autonomy and therefore the identification and management of these hazards will help achieve optimum performance and safety of the high speed road network.
Association for European Transport