7% fuel savings from semi-truck platooning, according to study

By James Ayre, on Clean Technica, 22 Feb 2017

I’ve read a number of pieces in recent years speculating on the potential benefits of a large-scale rollout of semi-truck platooning technologies, most of which seemed to make convincing arguments. It seems we’ll get a close look at real-world viability relatively soon, as Peloton Technology has announced that it is partnering with the fleet management firm Omnitracs to begin providing platooning technology later this year.

To be clear here, this is platooning technology intended for use by semi trucks being driven by actual humans, not for fully autonomous use. The system sounds pretty impressive, though — with the use of V2V communications and radar reportedly allowing for the easy platooning of 2 semis (one leading, one following).

Here are some more details via a recent press release:

“Peloton will begin filling pre-orders of its flagship platooning product for Class 8 trucks in 2017. The technology synchronizes braking and acceleration between pairs of trucks through the integration of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications with state-of-the-art, radar-based collision avoidance systems, enabling the trucks to travel safely at aerodynamic following distances. The Peloton system generates 4.5 percent fuel savings for the lead truck and 10 percent for the follow truck in a two-truck platoon, according to independent testing by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency.

“For the driver of the follow truck, the Peloton system works similarly to adaptive cruise control with the added safety feature of V2V communications to enable automated braking within 0.1 second of braking by the lead truck. The driver of each truck controls steering while the platooning system coordinates speed and distance between the trucks — meeting the definition of SAE Level 1 automated driving.

“Platoons are managed continuously by a cloud-based Network Operations Center that connects to trucks through cellular and Wi-Fi communications. Cloud-based supervision limits operation of platoons to specified roads in safe driving conditions. …

“A key operational benefit of the partnership for fleet customers will be optimized matching opportunities for inter-fleet platooning, leveraging Omnitracs’ routing and dynamic dispatch applications to provide navigation assistance and clear savings calculations for scheduled and ad-hoc platoons of trucks from different fleets.”

For the time being, this technology is limited to the platooning of only 2 semi trucks, but obviously the company has its eye on the expansion of the current abilities.

Also noteworthy is that, for the time being, the use of the tech will be software limited to specific roads and driving conditions.

The potential for substantial cost/fuel savings from platooning is tremendous when considering how much fuel is used by semi trucks. One would think this tech would catch on quickly if effective.