Safe trucking, as well as fuel-efficient trucking, can be enhanced by employing the new platooning technology described in the April 27, 2015 press release from Volvo. This system, called Peloton, was composed by Volvo Group Venture Capital (subsidiary of the Volvo Group), and can manage on-the-road vehicles within a close-following, semi-autonomous platoon.

Peloton works with existing safety technologies like collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control to wirelessly couple trucks through “vehicle-to-vehicle communications, radar-based braking systems and vehicle-control algorithms”. In a two-truck hook-up, the results are an increased ability to by-pass collisions, plus fuel savings.

The North American Council for Fuel Efficiency used a standard SAE Type II test to compare fuel efficiency within a major trucking fleet employing Peloton-system and two-truck platoons. They found “reductions in fuel consumption of 10% for the rear vehicle, and by more than 4% for the front vehicle.” Other studies–in the U.S. and overseas–have shown similar fuel savings.

The safe trucking factor within this new technology comes about, partially, through less traffic congestion because–as Susan Alt, Volvo Group Vice President of Public Affairs, explained–“platooning (should occur) on certain roads under certain conditions with certain drivers.”

Ms. Alt spoke recently at the Mid-America Trucking Show Fleet Forum where she showed a video of the Volvo Group’s European project called Sartre, or Safe Road Trains for the Environment. During the filmed Sartre test, “safety systems built into the platoon vehicles–such as cameras, radar and laser sensors–monitored not only the lead vehicle (a commercial truck), but also other vehicles in the vicinity,” so that the cars in the train almost exactly mimicked the truck. The autonomous cars all sped up, slowed and turned along with the professionally driven leader.

Throughout this Sartre train, car “drivers” simply relaxed and enjoyed their newspapers!

A company from Mountain View, California has developed Peloton, the U.S. based system. This company is also putting together a Platooning Network Operations Center, which will use cloud-based technologies to help trucks find platooning partners.

In the next few years, claimed Volvo’s Ms. Alt, “there could be more (than even Sartre demonstrated) vehicles in a platoon.”

Commercial trucking in which advanced wireless technology safely links multiple vehicles is not just a wave of the future anymore!

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