Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) has become the first commercial vehicle manufacturer in the USA to test connected trucks in platooning formations on public roads in the country.
Having started with successful trials on DTNA’s proving ground in Madras, Oregon, the company has moved on to testing the platooning system on public highways, having received the appropriate permission from the regional regulatory body, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).
In a first step known as ‘pairing’, Daimler has tested its platooning technology on two connected Freightliner New Cascadia truck-trailer combinations. The company will continue its trials program for the digitally connected truck convoys on selected highways in Oregon and Nevada, predominantly on long straight roads, which are considered to be most suitable for platoons. Next year onward, Daimler will conduct joint tests with large fleet customers under real-life conditions, in order to understand how platooning technology may impact on every day transport business operations.
DTNA has benefited from proven connected systems that have been successfully operated by its sister company in Europe, Mercedes-Benz, which has demonstrated the technology in programs such as the European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016. To digitally connect its New Cascadia trucks in the current tests in the USA, Daimler has combined wireless connectivity with its experience in automated driving systems. 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 seconds or 0.3 seconds, while humans cannot normally respond faster than one second.
Daimler Trucks has already connected around 500,000 trucks to the Internet of Things (IoT); more than any other manufacturer. The company is confident that when regulatory issues and the legal framework is in place, its customers will be able to operate their vehicles in platooning mode.
“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,” explained Roger Nielsen, DTNA’s president and CEO. “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.”