The German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) has committed nearly 2m (US$2.3m) in funding to DB Schenker, MAN Truck & Bus AG, and Hochschule Fresenius for their joint development of networked truck convoys.
The academically accompanied platooning project will be funded until January 2019. Initially the partners will test truck convoys in everyday operation at the digital test site on the A9 motorway for several months to analyze their suitability for practical application and system safety in real traffic scenarios, as well as within freight company DB Schenker’s logistics processes. This phase is also aimed at investigating the potential effects of the new technology on the truck driving profession.
DB Schenker will coordinate the entire project, and the first test runs will take place on the A9 freeway, between the company’s locations in Munich and Nuremberg, Germany, starting in early 2018. MAN will construct and supply the specially modified vehicles for performing the test runs. At the start, the trucks will run unloaded while the driving conditions in everyday traffic are analyzed and the drivers are trained. Over the course of 2018, there should be up to three trips per day with real loads.
The platooning system for road traffic will trial at least two trucks on the motorway, which will be networked by a technical system, allowing them to drive one after the other at a very close distance. All trucks in the platoon are connected via electronic vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, with the electronic coupling of the vehicles designed to ensure safe travel in traffic. The primary goal of the system is to use the generated slipstream driving to achieve fuel cost savings of up to 10%, with these reductions also cutting CO2 emissions. The project partners are also expecting to learn new ways to optimize the entire logistics chain and achieve social acceptance of new technologies.
“Automated and networked driving will soon be a reality. The platooning project will bring the technology from the lab to the roads,” explained Alexander Dobrindt, the German Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.
“High-tech trucks maintain safe distances and communicate with one another. Traffic runs more smoothly and safely, and road capacity and cabin comfort go up. The ministry is bringing innovative research projects focused on automated and networked driving to the road and is providing 100m (US$117m) funding. The goal is to make Germany the leading market for automated and networked driving.”