August 9, 2017

Engineers test fuel efficiency of truck platooning

Closely paired trucks can save gas by drafting in quick succession.

By DC Velocity Staff

Automotive-technology testing groups are gathered in Quebec this week to measure the fuel efficiency of truck platoons, which use precision telematics to save gas by drafting in quick succession, member firms said today.

The system works by employing wireless communications and automation to create a convoy or "platoon" of multiple trucks following in close succession, according to Montreal-based PIT Group, a division of FPInnovations that serves as a nonprofit engineering and research group for the North American trucking industry. Truck platoons support reductions in aerodynamic drag and vehicle spacing, which can help improve fuel economy, emissions, traffic flow, and road capacity, according to the company.

PIT is participating in Transport Canada's government testing program for cooperative truck platooning systems (CTPS), running July 24 to August 18 at the Motor Vehicle Test and Research Center in Blainville, Quebec.

The program is a joint effort led by Transport Canada's ecoTECHNOLOGY for Vehicles (eTV) program, and includes the National Research Council Canada; Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (University of California at Berkeley); the U.S. Department of Energy; the U.S. Federal Highway Administration; the California Department of Transportation, and Volvo Trucks.

Volvo is also an investor in Peloton Technology, an automated vehicle systems developer that landed $60 million in funding in April for its plan to accelerate development of technology that coordinates truck driving controls so they can cruise in highly efficient pairs of platoons.

The Canadian group is focusing on the real-world performance and reliability of truck platooning using a range of tractor-trailer configurations, speeds, separation distances, and weights in various traffic conditions. In 2016, the same team conducted fuel-economy testing of a three-vehicle truck platooning system.

To support the effort, PIT Group will manage operations and provide trailers, drivers, test engineers, and scientific equipment, in addition to conducting fuel consumption measurements. "Platooning is an important step towards autonomous vehicles and to realizing the potential to reduce fuel consumption, eliminate highway congestion, and improve safety," Yves Provencher, director for market and business development of PIT Group, said in a statement. "This year's testing program will provide a valuable understanding of the real savings potential of platooning."


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