HelmUK was the UK’s first real-world trial of HGV platooning which ran between 2017 and 2022. The concept of platooning is to use advanced driver assistance systems to enable HGVs to safely travel close together to save fuel via a slipstreaming effect. This concept has never been tested in a real-world environment in the UK.
HelmUK ran for 5 years and through exhaustive analysis of real-world trials found that platooning saved small amounts of fuel over Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) in the real-world. Further analysis found that in a road network optimised for platooning, fuel savings could increase to between 2.5% and 4.1%. HelmUK also found that platooning was as safe as ACC operation, if risks with merging vehicles at junctions are managed.
This report describes the purpose, approach, design, and results of the HelmUK trials covering road safety, fuel savings, effects on the road network, and economic benefits.
The HelmUK final report also discusses the future of platooning for National Highways, the UK government, and the freight industry. Finally, the report makes a series of recommendations for platooning development and deployment. These include consideration of regulation of low headways at junctions and a strong recommendation to deploy the underlying systems enabling platooning at more typical larger headways where they offer safety benefits with no increase in risk.