A four-truck platoon demonstrates automated road trains in Japan.
A four-truck platoon demonstrates automated road trains in Japan. "Truck platoon demo reveals 15% bump in fuel economy," SAE Magazines Online, May 10, 2013
Platooning Shows Fuel Economy Gains–but Who’s Zoomin’ Who?

Platooning.  If, when a reality, it could potentially benefit everything from safety and driver comfort …to road capacity… and the competitive delivery of a company’s product. It could also help vehicle manufacturers deal with future iterations of emission regulations. recently highlighted phase one of a Federal Highway Administration’s advanced research project on heavy truck cooperative cruise control, which looked at the feasibility of driver assistive truck platoon or DATP.

While the research showed that all trucks in a platoon gained fuel efficiencies—anywhere from a 5 to 10 percent improvement—it also identified, among other findings, the greatest challenge to DATP becoming a reality.  According to report highlights the most challenging aspect of this complex technological change comes down to who to platoon with.

An important initial step, however, in gained fuel efficiency through platooning is the role of vehicle-to-x communication with automated vehicles.  Industry experts through SAE International’s DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communication) Technical Committee are working on standards “J2945/6: Performance Requirements for Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control and Platooning.”

These works-in-progress recognize that data exchange will be necessary for coordinated maneuvers and that definition of the categories should start with differentiating platooning and CACC (Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control), then determining message sets and performance to realize cooperative vehicles.

Meanwhile, as standards are developed and help lay the foundation for automated vehicles and highway systems, fleets and owners-operators can decide with whom they’d prefer to platoon.

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