Intel and Simacan trialling platooning technology on one of Europe’s busiest freight corridors


Computing technology giant Intel and Netherlands-based traffic, geospatial and logistics data company Simacan are working to create ‘digital corridors’ for truck platoons along the highly congested ‘Tulip Corridor’ routes that connect North Sea ports to Germany’s industrial heartland.

Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Antwerp (Belgium) are Europe’s two busiest ports, handling a combined 675 million tons of freight in 2017. Most of this needs to be transported inland, much of it to Germany’s Ruhr Valley. This creates an ever-increasing burden on road networks that are struggling to cope with a high volume of trucks and the increasing disruption than can be caused by vehicles breaking down.

The two companies see truck platooning as being a potential answer to this problem, helping ease the flow of traffic, improve safety and reliability, while reducing the impact on the surrounding environment. All this needs to be done without impairing companies’ ability to get their goods delivered on time.

In the truck platoons being trialled, a collection of trucks equipped with state-of-the-art driving support systems follow each other in close formation. The trucks include smart technology and are communicating between each other, as well as to the drivers, to enable them to stay in close formation.

The platoons are enabled by Simacan’s Control Tower, a cloud-based logistics platform that uses Intel Xeon Scalable processors to analyze huge amounts of real-time data. The Intel-powered Control Tower software delivers a detailed operational picture featuring vehicles from multiple carriers. It includes traffic and vehicle condition updates, predicted arrival times, and automatic geofence detection. Based on this information, Simacan shares real-time notifications on planning, routing and arrival times, and delivers post-trip analyses based on the data gathered.

Results from the initial trials have already indicated the potential benefits of the platooning approach. Traffic flow for the platoons was improved by 10-17%. Applied to a truck with a working lifespan of 108,740 miles (175,000km), this equates to a saving of 1,580 gallons (6,000 liters) of diesel per truck, beneficial for both operators and for the environment.

Truck platooning will be tested at different levels along the Tulip Corridor between 2019 and 2023. The companies have set an ambitious goal for the project, with 100 platoons a day traversing the Tulip Corridor by 2020.

“With our Transport Cloud and Control Tower services, we constantly merge and analyze millions of datapoints out of logistic planning systems, onboard vehicle systems, and intelligent traffic management systems in real-time,” explained Rob Schuurbiers, CEO of Simacan. “With the support of Intel’s extremely high-performance technology, we succeed in meeting and surpassing our customers’ expectations.”

Norberto Carrascal, business consumption director for Intel’s EMEA territory, said, “The Tulip Corridor is a very tangible illustration that data is the ‘new oil.’ The volume of data involved bringing truck platooning to reality demonstrates the ability of our technology to power the world’s data-driven needs.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.