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Platooning Lets Trucks Get By With a Little Help from Their Friends

Feb. 24, 2017
The new system generates 4.5% fuel savings for the lead truck and 10% for the follow truck in a two-truck platoon, according to independent testing by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency.

In the not so distance future truck drivers will find themselves in close quarters with colleagues. This new pattern of driving, “platooning”, calls for a number of trucks to follow each other very closely so they can take advantage of the aerodynamics and save fuel.

The technology to make all of this happen is a result of collaboration between Peloton, a company that automates tractor-trailers and Omnitracs, a fleet management company.

The lead truck sets the pace. Through the integration of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications with state-of-the-art, radar-based collision avoidance systems, the technology synchronizes braking and acceleration between pairs of trucks. This communication ensures that the trucks travel safely at aerodynamic following distances.

For the driver of the follow truck, the Peloton system works similarly to adaptive cruise control with the added safety feature of V2V communications to enable automated braking within 0.1 second of braking by the lead truck. The driver of each truck controls steering while the platooning system coordinates speed and distance between the trucks-- meeting the definition of SAE Level 1 automated driving.

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