New European project will trial multi-brand truck platooning

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The partners of the ENSEMBLE consortium, including all six European commercial truck manufacturers, have committed to implement and demonstrate multi-brand truck platooning over the next three years.

Co-funded by the EU, and led by the Netherlands scientific research organization TNO, the ENSEMBLE consortium will implement and demonstrate multi-brand truck platooning on European roads from 2018-2021.

The project paves the way for the adoption of multi-brand truck platooning in Europe that will improve fuel economy, reduce CO₂ emissions and increase traffic capacity and throughput for the road freight sector. The main aim of the ENSEMBLE project is to ensure safe platooning when using different branded trucks and carry out impact assessment for infrastructure, road safety and traffic flow.

Traffic and road authorities will be approached to jointly define road approval requirements. Platoon Operation Levels will be defined to guide the design of different platooning functionalities and strategies, reflecting the full diversity of trucks with platooning functionality. Through real-world testing across national borders, the impact on traffic, infrastructure, and logistics will be assessed, while gathering relevant data of safety-relevant scenarios and necessitating harmonization of approval requirements.

With the possibility of multi-brand platooning available for trucks driving on European roads, a single truck can form a connected convoy with any other truck. This could result in fuel savings for a large group of vehicles on current roads. It will also influence traffic flow, especially on highly congested corridors.

Platoons will appear in normal traffic, causing smoother traffic and higher vehicle density, and thus improving road throughput.

Due to automated dynamic control between the vehicles, truck operations are safer and less stressful. At highway entries, exits, and junctions, platoons will automatically increase vehicle gaps to give way to other road users.

The first year of the project will concentrate on bundling the requirements and development of a reference design with acceptance criteria. This reference design will be taken up by the OEMs and suppliers for implementation on their own trucks during the second year, while the knowledge partners will perform impact assessments with several criteria.

Year three of the project will focus on testing the multi-brand platoons on test tracks and international public roads. The technical results will be evaluated toward the initial requirements. The impact on fuel consumption, drivers and other road users will also be established.

The final ENSEMBLE multi-brand truck platooning demonstration is planned on public roads in 2021.

The partners include: DAF, Daimler, Iveco, MAN, Scania, and the Volvo Group, with cooperation from ERTICO – ITS Europe.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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