There is a popular saying about buses: “You wait ages for one and then three turn up at once”. The same could be said for “truck platooning”. There was near radio silence about developments in early 2018 but since May there has been a cascade of platooning news.
Truck platooning today
A panel of experts at the “Movin’ On” conference, Montreal, agreed that platooning is a “now” technology ready for commercial use with some obstacles still to be overcome. One expert, Mike Roeth, executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) noted that truck manufacturers are gradually integrating the advanced driver assistance and safety systems such as collision mitigation systems and lane-departure alarms, technologies that underpin platooning, into their new trucks. The obstacles include regulatory concerns, fleet buy-in of the concept, driver acceptance of travelling so close to other trucks in the platoon and deployment. (source: Freightwaves)
European governmental organisations, NGOs, countries, truck manufacturers and fleet operators are intensifying their efforts to bring truck platooning from the testing environment to real-world application.
In May 2018, the European Commission highlighted its continuing commitment to truck platooning with the launch of its Third Mobility Package. It wants to prepare the ground for an “optimal roll-out” of connected and automated technologies for vehicles such as truck platooning via financial support, establishing an appropriate legal framework and a review of ethical and societal aspects.
In June 2018, with the support of the European Commission and Transport Ministries across Europe, TNO, a Dutch NGO announced that it would be leading the ENSEMBLE consortium of all the major European truck manufacturers and truck suppliers to address the challenges posed by multi-brand truck platooning. (source: TNO)
The EcoTwin III European research initiative has already developed technology for a robust three-truck platooning system enabling a safe inter-vehicle time gap of 0.3 seconds or less (7m at 80 km/h) (source: TNO) The smaller the gap, between the lead vehicle in a platoon and those following, the greater the fuel savings.
Individual European countries
There are noteworthy platooning tests taking place across European countries including:
France is conducting innovative truck platooning and autonomous vehicle experiments through IFSTTAR, a French transport research institute and member of the ENSEMBLE consortium. Its scientific director Bernard Jacob observed at the “Movin’ On” conference, that platooning can potentially add up to 6 hours of driving time in a day between two drivers. Drivers in Europe are limited to 9 hours of driving within 24 hours. By alternating a lead truck in a platoon, drivers can put in additional driving hours and transport the freight further. This can turn a 750 km journey into 950 km run. (source: Freightwaves)
In Germany MAN trucks, part of the Volkswagen group has persuaded its customer DB Schenker to trial its platooning technology. The Hamburg-based global logistics company has been testing truck convoys over several months. DB Schenker’s drivers have been hauling goods in platoon formation up to three times daily between Munich and Nuremberg on the A9 autobahn. (source: TruckInfo)
The UK government announced that it was going to test truck platooning on its road network by the end of this year. (source: Fortune) Martin Flach, alternative fuels director of Iveco recently told Motortransport that he expects real-world fuel efficiency gains from platooning in the UK to be modest, at about 5% depending on whether the vehicle is leading or following in a truck platoon.
Among truck platoon tests and forward-thinking projects in Japan is that of its National Police Agency. It has set-up a panel to discuss rules for autonomous vehicles including for fleets of trucks platooning on motorways, relating to speed limits, the length of platoons and the distance between each truck. (source: JapanTimes)
Korea Express Corp, a state-run company is leading a project to build an automated platooning system for self-driving trucks. Its objective is to run platooning trials on public roads for two trucks in 2019 and for four trucks by 2021. (source: Pulsenews)
Last but not least, 17 states in the USA allow truck platooning trials, covering some 45,000 miles (72,500 km) of roads. (source: Freightwaves)
Flexible trailer capacity, trailers equipped with the latest technology – the keys to success
Whether or not the world is ready for truck platoons, there will always be demand for transporters to carry large volumes of products in their trailers. Having flexible trailer capacity with trailers that are equipped with the latest trailer technology are the keys to playing a successful part in the transport industry. Why not consider trailer rental or leasing from TIP Trailer Services? Ask TIP how you can benefit from our 60.000+ trailer fleet by contacting us via this form.
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