Automotive

Daimler's self-driving truck platoons to roll onto US highways

Daimler has been busy putting its platooning technology through it paces
Daimler has been busy putting its platooning technology through it paces
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Truck platooning is something we are starting to hear more and more about
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Truck platooning is something we are starting to hear more and more about
Daimler has been busy putting its platooning technology through it paces
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Daimler has been busy putting its platooning technology through it paces
Daimler will begin testing its truck platoons on certain highways in Oregon and Nevada
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Daimler will begin testing its truck platoons on certain highways in Oregon and Nevada

As autonomous vehicles of all shapes and sizes continue to gain momentum, truck platooning is something we're starting to hear more and more about. The basic idea is that, fitted with self-driving technology, trucks wirelessly tethered with one another can roll down the highway in a tighter formation than would be possible with humans at the wheel. Daimler is set to trial such trucks on selected highways in the US as it begins testing of its truck platooning technology on American soil for the first time.

Truck platooning offers a number of potential benefits. We could see a huge reduction in congestion and accidents, along with fuel usage and C02 emissions. Daimler says that fuel economy figures could improve by as much as 10 percent, because of the ability of trailing trucks to fall tightly into the slipstream created by the leading vehicles.

And the company has been busy putting its platooning technology through it paces. Last year, it took part in the EU Truck Platooning Challenge along with other big names like Scania and Volvo, which saw a platoon of trucks cross national borders for the first time. It has also carried out platooning trials in Germany and the Netherlands.

Daimler will begin testing its truck platoons on certain highways in Oregon and Nevada
Daimler will begin testing its truck platoons on certain highways in Oregon and Nevada

Its move onto US soil follows testing at a private facility in Oregon, and comes with the blessing of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). The company will start by "pairing" two Freightliner New Cascadia trucks, and driving the digitally connected vehicles down certain highways in Oregon and Nevada. Larger fleet testing will follow in 2018.

"We see growing customer interest in platooning," said Roger Nielsen, President and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA). "This technology stands for more efficiency and safety. Platooning technology is not meant to replace drivers – it's designed to help drivers. When the world is ready for platooning, DTNA will have a proven solution. Right now, we are driving Freightliners in platoons every day. I have personally driven one of our trucks in a connected mode. My experience has been impressive."

Source: Daimler

8 comments
BleedingEdge
OK, that's great...sort of, as long as they stay the hell out of the left lane.
Bob
You can bet this is designed to replace drivers. Anyone who makes a decent wage has an automation bulls eye on their back. As far as the technology goes, it will be so complex and easily defeated that I feel it is being over hyped. I travel a lot with a car GPS and my smart phone. There is always at least one navigation error on each device every time I travel. Autonomous driving will depend on navigation as well as handling road emergencies while driving the vehicle. If your home computer and smart phone need to be updated every month for software bugs and errors, just think about an autonomous vehicle. Even if they get it worked out, what about slick roads, terrorists, highjackers, and hackers? A low tech road block or tires flattened on a long stretch of interstate would easily defeat the software. If all this money and effort was spent on a new updated rail system I would consider that a much better idea.
BJRieder
Let's hope that their algorithms require them to increase spacing upon approaching and passing entry/exit ramps. Otherwise drivers will encounter a steel curtain causing backups both on the highway (exiting) and the entry ramps, as auto traffic attempst to enter the outermost lane. BJR
GeneMasters
What happens when a "4 wheeler" pops in between those semi trucks? Will the trailing truck space itself behind the car that squeezed itself in between? I foresee a problem there... unless the "following" truck follows the leading truck so closely that a car can't fit in the gap. In my own opinion, I think the idea of a "road train" (a tractor pulling several trailers) similar to those seen in Australia would be a preferable option... and then, only on long stretches of lonely Interstate highways. But... what do I know?
kelly23
10-4 good buddy, looks like we got us a CONVOY!
habakak
This will not replace drivers. Since the lead truck eventually might drop off someone else will have to take the lead. Also, if you are not the lead truck, when it drops of it will require a driver. So, this will NOT displace drivers. This is a pretty horrible band-aid. Trucks will go electric and will be 2 to 3 times as fuel efficient as the 10% fuel saving this solution provides. And with full-autonomy you can still do this. Full autonomous electric trucks will blow this away and will be a reality in 5 years or less. This is a waste of valuable money. One of the biggest issues with platooning would be the issue with overtaking a string of 5 or 10 or God-forbid 50 trucks. Not that overtaking 5 consecutive trucks won't be an issue. Only if almost all vehicular traffic is fully autonomous could platooning be successfully deployed. Trucks going electric will have 30 or 30 times greater savings in fuel cost though.
vince
Platooning is illegal in all 50 states in the US and private car owners will NEVER allow them to take over the roads with long platoons. Private cars would be unable to pass them safely and road rage would be the result. Our Interstate system is NOT designed for platooning which would require a TRUCK-ONLY lane. No thanks. Over my dead body!
Grunchy
Platooning - another word for "tail gating". Or reducing the following distance to below the threshold of being able to react effectively with an emergency maneuver. This is going to lead to a great big huge accident. You may say, "oh well the automatic system is hyper-vigilant and will sense the hazard faster than any human, and the trucks are all connected so they will all brake simultaneously and theoretically, they will all avoid the hazard" however the fact is the heaviest truck has the least-effective brakes and if it's in the rear it's still going to plow into the truck ahead of it. This system is going to kill people, and the people behind it aren't going to stop until people die and are forced to stop by the courts. For Example: these automatic driving schemes have no method to notice a developing hazard and will not slow down accordingly, like a human driver would. What possible hazard could that be? Yeah the world is full of hazards & you cannot program every single one into the computer.