Two German automotive technology suppliers, Continental and Knorr-Bremse, have taken a further step in their development of highly automated commercial vehicle driving with the Platooning Demonstrator, which is based on a platoon of three trucks of different makes.
The two partners have already conducted initial demonstrations and tests with commercial vehicle makers, with the cross-manufacturer platooning system performing five central driving functions. During their work on the Platooning Demonstrator project, Continental and Knorr-Bremse have successfully shown: the formation of platoons; driving together ‘in-sync’; an automatic emergency braking function; exiting from the convoy by individual vehicles; and safe splitting up of the entire platoon. During the development work, special attention has been paid to the process of transferring control from the driver to the vehicle.
A key element of this is clear instructions on what to do, which the driver receives via the specially designed human/machine interface (HMI) that displays the information graphically and clearly. The transfer itself is initiated on request by the push of a button as soon as the partner vehicle is less than 164ft (50m) away. The synchronized vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) emergency braking function ensures greater traffic safety by initiating simultaneous braking of all the trucks without any delay due to reaction times, which results in them coming to a stop at the same distance apart as during driving.
Different technologies from the two partners are used in the Platooning Demonstrator:
Continental is responsible for the very latest sensor technologies installed, including cameras and radar and lidar systems, which together with V2V communication, allow very short distance between vehicles during platooning, which makes fuel-saving driving possible;
Knorr-Bremse is contributing its trajectory planning expertise and the Motion Control driving stability system that actuates steering and braking for longitudinal and lateral control. The company is also handling systems integration, including validation.
Future systems will use Continental’s assisted and automated driving control unit (ADCU) and global scalable brake control (GSBC) from Knorr-Bremse to supply the input for the driving strategy.
Based on experience gained during development of the Platooning Demonstrator, the partners are now gearing up for further development work on automated driving on public roads. The Highway Pilot aims to enable highly automated driving by single trucks on motorways, with a first demonstrator planned for next year. Starting in 2020, the partners will be ready to develop this technology jointly with truck manufacturers.
“With the Platooning Demonstrator, we’ve reached the first milestone of our joint work,” noted Gilles Mabire, Continental’s head of commercial vehicles and aftermarket business. “The focus now is on exchanging ideas with vehicle manufacturers for further development of the system solution in line with the product strategies of the customers.”
Dr Peter Laier, Knorr-Bremse’s board member with responsibility for the commercial vehicles division, added, “Automated driving is an evolutionary development. Progress is continuing in the relevant technologies and our understanding of the market is improving. This is changing the conditions for automated driving and the speed at which these functions are introduced.”