There's a lot of buzz surrounding self-driving vehicles, and here in the States, we've seen them as mid-sized autonomous sedans or SUVs.
In Europe, however, they're taking autonomous driving to the big leagues with self-driving 18-wheelers.
And it's not just one truck driving itself either. It's an entire convoy of 18-wheelers closely following each other on the road all driving themselves. It's called Truck Platooning.
Truck Platooning requires that each of the large trucks lined up one behind the other to be equipped with state-of-the-art driving support systems. As a result, an actual platoon of 18-wheelers actually forms along the highways.
A bunch of big trucks all mutually communicating with each other on the highway might not seem like the safest idea, but it actually is. Trucks in a platoon can all break immediately with zero reaction time, providing for much safer streets.
Also, because the trucks all drive much closer together than humanly possible at a constant speed, platooning also helps to cut costs and save money. Plus, truck platooning leads to lesser fuel consumption and thus lower CO2 emissions as well.
In what is one of the largest examples of Europe's leading progress in the arena of automated driving, a dozen or so trucks from manufacturers like Volvo and Daimler completed a week long autonomous trek across the continent. It was the first of such exercise ever to have been successfully completed, too.
Backed by the Dutch government, these trucks took part in what is known as the European Truck Platooning challenge where their journey ultimately ended in the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
"We now have huge energy in the network and the idea is that we will go to real-life cases. Companies like Unilever are planning to start these cases in 2017," explains the platooning challenge's program director, Dirk-Jan de Bruijn.
So while Google, Tesla, Ford and a growing number of others get most of the street cred for bringing autonomous driving to the masses, it's on the other side of the Atlantic where the technology is being taken to bigger levels and hauling the products of big businesses.
Watch the video below to learn more about this impressive achievement.