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The Future is in Platooning

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The trucking industry continues to move closer to automated vehicles. The next step toward this goal is currently under development at Peloton Technology, a lab based in Northern California. Peloton Technology is designing a method for two trucks to electronically link while on the road, saving fuel and boosting safety performance. Called platooning, this technology is a large step forward in the effort to create more environmentally-friendly fleets. If implemented across multiple businesses, platooning promises to significantly cut fuel usage – a major advance, given that fuel is typically a fleet’s largest expense.

Platooning is currently intended for two trucks traveling single file. Once the second truck is the correct distance from the first truck, the drivers have the option to link their vehicles. Both drivers retain manual control of their steering wheels. Sensors on both trucks scan the road and automatically employ the brakes to prevent collisions. Platooning is calculated for efficiency – the second truck travels in the first truck’s slipstream, reducing fuel use by as much as 14%.  For all its potential benefits, the technology has been met with a fair amount of resistance within the trucking industry. Opponents to the system have cited logistical concerns, including the viability of the braking system and equitable distribution of fuel savings. While these are reasonable objections, the overall savings platooning offers cannot be argued with. With funding from Denso and Volvo, platooning has captured the transportation industry’s attention. Further development will be needed to ensure the technology is viable. Until then, trucking continues to move toward advanced and profitable connections.

The seeds of platooning already exist within telematics software. Platooning depends on drivers communicating and locating each other – telematics platforms offer Nearest and Two-Way Messaging features that allow dispatchers to direct drivers to specific locations.  These features help drivers reduce fuel use and relay each other road hazard information – all in accordance with federal regulations


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