Daimler Trucks tests platooning

Daimler is testing connected trucks in so called platooning operations on public roads in the US. This was announced during the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta recently, with Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) driving digitally connected trucks on selected highways in Oregon and Nevada.

In truck platooning, connectivity and automated driving improve safety within the vehicle convoys, support drivers and enhance efficiency through closer distances between the connected trucks.

Having started with successful trials on Daimler Trucks North America’s proving ground in Madras, Oregon, DTNA has received the appropriate permission from the regional regulatory body Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). In a first step called ‘pairing’, DTNA is testing its platooning technology in two connected Freightliner New Cascadia truck trailer combinations.

DTNA benefits from proven systems which have successfully been operated by Mercedes-Benz trucks, such as in the European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016. With this initiative DTNA is reacting to increasing customer interest in solutions for automated and connected driving in commercial transport.

In a joint effort with fleet customers DTNA is working to understand how platooning technology may impact fleet operations (e.g. dispatch, logistics, driver training). In a joint effort with large fleet customers DTNA will test digitally connected trucks in everyday transport business. With its Freightliner and Western Star brands, Daimler Trucks accounts for a 40% market share in the North American truck market.

Roger Nielsen, President and CEO, DTNA, says: “We see growing customer interest in platooning. This technology stands for more efficiency and safety. Platooning technology is not meant to replace drivers – it’s designed to help drivers. When the world is ready for platooning, DTNA will have a proven solution. Right now, we are driving Freightliners in platoons every day. I have personally driven one of our trucks in a connected mode. My experience has been impressive.”

For the past years Daimler Trucks has been pioneering technologies on the fields of automated, connected and electrified driving with its Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner and FUSO brands. Around the globe, Daimler Trucks has connected around 500 000 trucks to the internet of things.

To digitally connect its Freightliner New Cascadia in the current tests in the US, Daimler combines connectivity with its experience in automated driving. Wi-Fi-based vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) interacts with Freightliner’s Detroit Assurance 4.0 driver assistance systems featuring Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Assist and Active Brake Assist 4. This technology offers fuel savings to the customer when two or more Freightliner trucks closely follow each other, lowering aerodynamic drag and adding safety, because V2V reaction times have dropped to about 0.2 or 0.3 seconds – while humans normally can respond not faster than one second. Human errors cause 94 percent of the crashes on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the future automated and connected braking between lead vehicle and follower will prevent accidents.

When it comes to platooning, the trucking industry in the US is not only talking about technology, but also – like in Europe – about regulatory issues. When the legal framework is set, Daimler Trucks customers will be able to operate their vehicles in platooning mode.