The commercial vehicle arm of Ford’s joint venture in Turkey, Ford Otosan, has successfully completed initial test drives of platooning technology for its trucks with Austrian automotive consultancy and research company AVL.
Initiated last year as a research and development cooperation between Ford Otosan, and AVL’s research and engineering centres in Turkey and Regensburg in Germany, the collaboration’s work is aimed at re-defining the operation of trucks in the freight haulage industry. At a demonstration event on the test track at Ford Otosan’s Eskişehir Plant in Turkey, Ford’s new F-MAX tractor units equipped with AVL platooning technology have successfully run in a wirelessly-connected convoy formation. The partners note that as the first phase of their joint R&D cooperation project is completed, their progress on the platooning of heavy commercial vehicles will form the basis to making fully autonomous transportation become a reality, not only in Turkey, but worldwide.
Ford Otosan (Ford Otomotiv Sanayi AŞ) is a joint venture with Koç Holding and is the company’s biggest commercial vehicle production centre in Europe. AVL is the world’s largest independent company for the development, simulation and testing technology of powertrains for passenger cars, trucks and large engines. Over the three years of the partnership’s platooning R&D project, they expect that trucks within the convoy automatically following a lead truck, will be able to cut fuel consumption by as much as 10%, with a similar reduction in vehicle emissions.
“This is an important milestone on the road to autonomous driving in heavy commercial transportation,” said Ford Otosan’s assistant general manager, Burak Gökçelik. “This R&D project will enable us to advance smart mobility, reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption, and improve road safety. In the next phases of the project and long term we aim to develop SAE-Level 4 autonomous driving features and realize hub-to-hub autonomous highway transportation. We are pleased to be one of the few truck manufacturers in the world investing and working on autonomous truck technologies with a prototype product.”
AVL’s executive vice president of global business development and international truck and bus operations, Rolf Dreisbach also stressed the collaboration’s vital role in developing and testing autonomous truck technology in Turkey. Dreisbach said, “There are several benefits of platooning, such as the reduction of total cost of ownership and increased fuel savings. Very important to point out is also the increase in safety, which can be realized on all levels of autonomous driving. In this joint development project, we aim to increase autonomous driving levels of vehicles and, ultimately, reach a level where no human driver is needed behind the steering wheel. This means we can solve the driver shortage and make transports more cost efficient and safer. AVL’s knowledge of more than 70 years in powertrain development and global automotive engineering power has been used very effectively in this project.”