Last week, the Federal Highway Administration conducted a two-day demonstration on partially automated truck platooning in the Washington, D.C. metro area using a three-truck platoon. A previous demonstration of this nature was conducted near Los Angeles last March.
For the past four years, the FHWA’s Exploratory Advanced Research team has been working on this project with the California Department of Transportation in order to showcase the capabilities and potential of utilizing three-truck platoons with Vehicle-to-Vehicle Connectivity (V2V) and Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control (CACC). This technology was developed under the EAR project, in conjunction with the University of California Berkeley Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology, and allows trucks to operate more smoothly as a unit, reducing and controlling the gaps between vehicles. Here is an informative video of how truck platooning works - bear in mind that this particular video is not affiliated with this project, although it outlines the same principles at use.
So why is this important? There are actually a number of reasons why this advance is pretty exciting, especially in the United States.
- The controlled speed and drag of platooning will decrease emissions AND reduce traffic congestion.
- Early results of testing predict up to a 15% fuel savings for following trucks.
- Improved road efficiency, travel time, and consequently, reduced delivery time. A boost to truckload on-time performance is always a plus.
- Reduced operating costs for fleet operators.
- Expected to create higher driver retention AND reduce driving workload and fatigue to drivers. Because this system is partially automated, drivers are still very critical for steering the vehicle and remaining vigilant to take over full control of the vehicle at any time for safe driving.
- This type of technological transportation advance helps to make the United States more competitive on a global scale as well.
The Federal Highway Administration expects truck platooning to increase our highway capacity by making freight transportation more efficient, meaning that we can get more out of the highway system we currently have, in addition to relieving traffic congestion and reducing costs to the freight industry. This advancement has the potential to have a direct and positive impact on the economy of the United States. With the successes of these demonstrations, truck manufacturers and their suppliers are working to commercialize the system by late 2018. Increasing logistics efficiency appears to be on a continuous upward track.
For more information on the FHWA's truck platooning program, click here.