Belgium builds experience with advanced driving systems

Lennen Descamps for AON 034

Platoon tests are also being conducted in Belgium to pave the way for the advent of self-driving cars. The tests allow drivers and automotive companies to learn how the systems can be operated and improved.

Insurance brokerage and risk advisory group Aon is one of the first companies to organise a platoon test in Belgium. Assisted by the Transportation Research Institute (IMOB, Hasselt University), Carglass, Prodive Training and Royal Haskoning DHV, they are ensuring that self-driving vehicles are one step closer to becoming a reality.

During the test, the cars drove in a platoon formation over different types of Belgian roads. They were equipped with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Keeping Systems (LKS).

Feeling safe behind the wheel

Nearly all drivers reported having felt safe and comfortable in traffic, once they had mastered the systems. “Only by being fully acquainted with the system will the driver manage to operate the vehicle properly. Additional driver training is therefore essential,” concludes the report on the National Platoon Test

Innovative safety systems on trucks and passenger cars such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Keeping Systems (LKS) offer demonstrable prospects for improved road safety. The use of smart vehicles will significantly reduce the number of road fatalities.

Inconspicuous in traffic

What are the main findings from this test?

  • Driving in a platoon was the most efficient on the motorway sections, with a constant speed limit and without traffic lights, while traffic was not excessively busy.
  • Once the drivers were accustomed to the system, their interventions became less frequent. They knew better what kind of support they could expect from the systems, and in which situations.
  • At the traffic lights on the motorway itinerary (A12), the platoons proved well able to automatically slow down in response to the deceleration of the leading vehicle.
  • Even during acceleration, the platoon formations remained generally intact.
  • The reaction of other road users towards the platoons was not noticeably different from their interaction with regular traffic. The platoons moved quite inconspicuously through traffic.

Smoother and more sustainable traffic

The expectation is that these cooperative, highly autonomous vehicles will contribute to safe, smooth, sustainable and pleasant traffic. Further research will indeed show whether these expectations are met.

Download here the free National Platoon Test brochure (in Dutch).