- After a four-year research project on the effectiveness of vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) decided to showcase the benefits of truck platoons through three tests of three-truck platoons in Centreville, VA, according to a press release.
- Truck platooning relies on vehicle-to-vehicle communication to permit close contact between trucks at a mere one second apart. The FHWA's tests, however, also added Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control technology to the platooning trucks.
- Federal officials expect truck platooning technology to provide great efficiency and safety benefits by relieving traffic congestion and reducing costs for the freight industry, according to Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye Hendrickson.
Truck platooning is likely to usher in semi-automated transport, as the FHWA sets new guidelines and continues aggressive testing on the technology.
State and local governments are already experimenting with truck platooning technology, with Ohio and Iowa leading the way, Iowa having lobbied for a following distance exemption to allow platooning while Ohio partnered with Peloton Technology to utilize its turnpike as a truck platoon testing ground. In Indiana, Purdue University received a $5 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to explore fuel savings and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology for greater platooning efficiency.
Perhaps noting this activity, the FHWA has begun conducting its own road tests. "We're leading cutting-edge research with the inclusion of Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control (CACC) System technology," Nancy Singer, spokeswoman for the FHWA, told Supply Chain Dive.
The tests in Virginia come shortly after the U.S. Department of Transportation released new guidelines for Automated Driving Systems, and a sign that the government is willing to take the lead in both regulating and encouraging the adoption of new technology.
Next up on their testing agenda is a two-truck system. "Now that we've verified that three trucks can effectively communicate, we want to try out a two-truck model. We also intend to conduct more studies on the human factor of this process. It is not our goal that this process should operate without human involvement."