Truck platooning, the holy grail?

Truck platooning is the linking of two or three trucks in a convoy. These vehicles closely follow each other at a set, close distance by using connectivity technology and automated driving support systems.

The truck at the head of the platoon acts as the leader, with the vehicles behind reacting and adapting to changes in its movement. For example, if the platoon leader brakes, all the other trucks in the platoon also brake.

The trucks automatically maintain a narrow distance between each other when they are connected for certain parts of a journey, for instance on motorways. Parts of the route are still conventionally driven. Moreover, the drivers are responsible for system controls at all times, so they can also decide to leave the platoon and drive independently. Drivers still play a crucial role, so their jobs will be maintained and made more diverse. Truck manufacturers and logistics operators are eager to bring truck platooning to Europe’s roads, and the first real-life tests are underway.

What are the benefits of truck platooning?

Clean

  • Platooning results in a lower fuel consumption, as the trucks drive closer together at a constant speed, with less braking and accelerating.
  • Truck platooning has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 10%.

Safe

  • With conventional trucks, critical risk factors are driver reaction time and concentration. Indeed, some 90% of all traffic accidents are due to human error.
  • Truck platooning helps improve safety. With connected driving, braking is automatic with virtually zero reaction time compared to human breaking.
  • Allowing for more predictive driving of trucks on the road, platooning also improves safety for other road users.

Efficient

  • Truck platooning optimises transport by using roads more effectively, helping deliver goods faster and reducing traffic jams.
  • It therefore enables the supply chain and transport system to be optimised.
  • Platooning reduces congestion by improving traffic flows and reducing tail-backs.

Business benefits

  • Platoons have the potential to make the logistic process more efficient and optimise the labour market.
  • Platooning is a cost-saver, as lower fuel consumption means lower fuel costs, which currently make up 30% of total operating costs of a truck.
  • For transport companies, platooning means also a safer, more efficient flow of their freight.
  • Under current legislation, drivers are either resting or driving. With automated platooning, the drivers of the trucks following the leader have the possibility to undertake other tasks, such as administrative work or making calls.

 

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