FHWA promotes truck platooning with demonstration

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 9/18/2017

Truck platooning technology is quickly advancing, and the Federal Highway Administration is helping with its progress.

On Sept. 14-15, FHWA hosted a three-truck platooning demonstration on Interstate 66 in Centreville, Va.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., FHWA and the Virginia Department of Transportation demonstrated the technology to media.

According to a FHWA news release, the demo culminated a four-year research project on cutting-edge truck platooning technology, which offers the potential to improve the efficiency of freight transportation nationwide. The eventual platooning plan is that the lead truck would have a driver. In last week’s demo, the DOT test platoon had professional drivers in the second and third truck for lateral movements. The acceleration and spacing of those trucks was determined by technology.

The demonstration came just one day after the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation conducted a hearing regarding autonomous trucks called “Transportation Innovation: Automated Trucks and our Nation's Highways.” Partially automated truck platooning is considered Level 1 automation, which is defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers as automation that requires driver assistance. It is where connected vehicle technology enables the vehicle to continuously communicate and coordinate travel with other trucks to follow each other at close proximity, according to FHWA.

Ride-alongs offered an opportunity for the passenger to experience the responses of trailing trucks after a passenger vehicle cuts in between the trucks. FMCSA also featured an inspection demo that allowed media and other interested parties to understand safety equipment that is essential to platooning trucks.

FHWA expects partially automated truck platooning to improve road efficiency and travel time, reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gases, and improve national freight movement and the national economy. For fleets, truck platooning is expected to reduce fuel use, reduce delivery time, lower operating cost and raise driver retention. FHWA predicts truck platooning will also reduce driving workload and fatigue for drivers.

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