What is Truck Platooning?

16 Oct 2018

Platooning is an emerging vehicle technology where digitally tethered convoys of two or more trucks travel closely together to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency. Partially-automated truck platooning (PATP) is considered level one automation where drivers assistance is required for steering vehicles involved in the process and readily available to take over full driving responsibilities whenever it becomes necessary to ensure safe driving.

What Makes Platooning Work?

The primary technology behind platooning is vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) connectivity that allows vehicles within the convoy to communicate with one another. This allows them to follow more closely together than they would follow other vehicles. When vehicles that aren’t part of the convey merge in between vehicles within the convoy, the technology backs off to a safer distance and then returns once the other vehicle shifts lanes. Technologies that make this possible are largely available today and include:

  • Forward-facing cameras.
  • Electronic and/or adaptive speed control.
  • Electronically controlled braking.

As you can see, we have the technology. In fact, these types of technologies have improved over the past five years making them even more effective for the future of platooning.

Benefits of Platooning

While platooning is not yet the law of the land, there are many anticipated benefits that make the technology a worthy pursuit for many trucking organization. Some of the expected benefits include:

  • Greater efficiency of road use and travel time.
  • Reduced traffic congestion.
  • Fewer greenhouse gases released.
  • Improved fuel economy.
  • Reduced operating expenses for fleets of all sizes.
  • Higher driver retention.
  • Reduced fatigue for drivers.
  • Shorter delivery times.

With benefits like these, it’s no wonder organizations are working hard to bring this technology to the commercial vehicle by the end of 2018. Another bonus is that there are currently no federal regulations limiting the deployment of truck platooning systems.

When Will We See This Technology Put to Use?

Platooning has been going through extensive testing that began in October 2013 and ended in October 2017. The hope is that we’ll begin seeing a wider adaptation of this technology on the roads by the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019.

While the concept of platooning may still feel a little more science fiction than science fact, there are things you can do for your fleet that will help you optimize routes to avoid congestion, reduce idling, and conserve fuel costs. GPS fleet tracking can help you accomplish all these things and more. Even better? This technology is available and ready to use right away!

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