- Truck platoons will soon be traveling on Ohio highways thanks to a partnership between Peloton Technology and the state, Cleveland.com reported last week. The state has designated the Ohio Turnpike, a portion of I-90 and a Smart Mobility Corridor as potential test sites.
- Platooning is a practice wherein two or more trucks drive close together to cheat wind and limit fuel waste, while sharing braking and speed information.
- The Ohio Turnpike is deemed an ideal testing ground due to its relative straight, flat path. The trucks will be piloted by drivers for steering, and have forward collision avoidance technology.
Truck platooning technology is picking up speed in the U.S., but the semi-autonomous technology cannot be fully deployed until states and cities agree to allow platoons to drive alongside human drivers. Skeptics of autonomous technology have long argued avoiding other driver's cannot be programmed into auto-pilot features, and platoons are no different.
But Ohio has positioned itself as a pioneer for smart technology implementation, seeking to reap the benefits of connected vehicles and cities. Earlier this year, the state announced it would invest $15 million to install a fiber-optic cable network and sensor systems within certain roads next year to aid deployment of self-driving vehicles.
Doing so will allow companies like Otto and Peloton Technologies to test their technologies in real-life scenarios, and test skeptics' arguments. Results will be closely watched.
The plan could backfire if autonomous vehicles cause major accidents on these roads ... but if they do not, the state is positioning itself to be a testing ground for many other companies as technology develops further. Given its proximity to Michigan's auto manufacturers, the state could be heavily trafficked by smart vehicles as early as 2020.