Daimler participates in Japan’s first truck platooning tests on public expressways

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Having tested the electronic connection of trucks in Europe and the USA, Daimler Trucks is now operating platoons with its Asian brand Fuso, which are digitally-connected with trucks of other brands, in trials on public roads around Tokyo.

During the current tests, a heavy-duty Fuso Super Great operates electronically connected and semi-autonomously in a platoon with trucks from other Japanese commercial vehicle manufacturers. The test drives are taking part until February 1 on the Shin-Tomei Expressway southwest of Tokyo, and on the Kita-Kano Expressway, north of the Japanese capital.

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) have initiated the platooning tests as part of the government’s Future Strategy 2017 initiative.

The program aims to roll out innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) across all industries. In the commercial vehicle sector, it is hoped that truck platooning will contribute to the reduction of fuel consumption, and lower CO₂-emissions, while also helping with Japan’s truck driver shortage.

Daimler Trucks has been conducting pioneering work in autonomous, connected and electric driving for many years with its Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner and Fuso truck brands. Daimler has now connected around 560,000 trucks to the IoT worldwide; this is more than any other manufacturer.

For the Japanese platooning tests, Daimler is combining the technological possibilities offered by digital connectivity with its experiences in the field of autonomous driving. The Fuso test vehicle uses wi-fi-based vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications equipment that interacts with its driver-assistance systems, including Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control (CACC), Lane Departure Assist, and Active Brake Assist 4 (ABA 4).

Daimler launched the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck concept in 2014, featuring an autonomous driving function, with the designated aim of developing full self-driving technology for series production by 2025. The following year, Daimler introduced the ‘Highway Pilot’ automated driving technology in Germany.

In 2016, the company took part in the Dutch government’s European Truck Platooning Challenge initiative with three electronically connected and semi-autonomous Mercedes-Benz Actros. In the USA, the company’s Freightliner Inspiration Truck completed the world’s first autonomous truck drive on public roads in 2017.

Daimler has since conducted the world’s first autonomous platooning test on public roads in the USA, and platooning trials will continue on public expressways in the states of Oregon and Nevada through 2018.

“Two years ago, we demonstrated in Europe that platooning can be done and is highly advantageous,” noted Daimler board member Martin Daum. “We are pleased to take part in the Japanese government’s initiative to push platooning further ahead in Asia.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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