New technology to get even more out of the current truck designs is being experimented with around the world, by simply enabling trucks to run closer to the truck in front, without compromising safety. Here is a simple-to-understand video giving us the basics of just how platooning works in trucks. This shows us the EcoTwin project from DAF with two trucks, wirelessly linked via WiFi, driving at a close distance with the driver in the second truck not needing to accelerate, brake or steer.
This demonstration, put on for the the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Schultz van Haegen and her Belgian counterpart, was a first in The Netherlands. The intention of the EcoTwin experiment with TNO, the Dutch Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, was to show how the second vehicle is technically able to follow a short distance from the front vehicle, using radar and camera information, thanks to wireless communication between the two vehicles.
“Just because we have showed that ‘automated platooning’ with two trucks is technically feasible, that doesn’t mean that we are actually there yet”, said Ron Borsboom, member of the Board of Management of DAF Trucks, responsible for product development. “We still need to do quite a lot of development work to ensure that the technology is completely reliable in any situation. Issues like legislation, liability and acceptance also have to be taken care of properly.
“Along with TNO, we expect that transport companies will be able to operate the first trucks using truck platooning safely on Dutch motorways and some major provincial roads by around 2020.”
Here, an observant truck fan has caught the DAF platoon out on the highway in The Netherlannds:
Also this week, the Volvo organisation has announced its acquisition of Peloton Technology, a US based developer of vehicle technologies including a platooning system. The Peloton system electronically couples trucks through a combination of vehicle-to-vehicle communications, radar-based active braking systems and proprietary vehicle control algorithms. Testing has shown a reductions in fuel consumption of 10 per cent for the rear truck and by over 4 per cent for the front vehicle.
Volvo, themselves, have been working on a system called SARTRE, which is similar to that demonstrated by DAF, but also including cars in the platoon. The system Volvo have bought into, from Peloton, is a less sophisticated technology but with similar safety and fuel saving advantages: