Truck Platooning: The What, Why and How

Truck platooning is an innovative system of automated vehicle operation that has been shown to improve safety, minimize fuel consumption and reduce aerodynamic drag.

Representatives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) joined us to host a workshop centered around this developing technology at our most recent Logistics & Transportation Council meeting.

Stakeholders from varying divisions of the transportation industry engaged in constructive conversation about heavy truck platooning’s opportunities, barriers, concerns, and benefits in New York State.

The truck platooning system allows two or more vehicles to follow each other in close proximity through the use of advanced cooperative adaptive cruise control and inter-vehicle communication.Truck Platooning Logistics & Transportation

Still in the early stages of development, this technology helps drivers identify and communicate with each other through a wireless electronic communication system connected to the internet. The operating system then allows the drivers to facilitate platooning by coordinating speed and braking between the two vehicles.

Participants discussed at length what successful implementation of this system would look like in New York State. Referring to research from several studies, presenters explained that the first phase of adopting this technology would connect only trucks in the same fleet. But experts are working on technology that would allow inter-fleet connection that, if successful, would drastically advance efficiency in the field of logistics and transportation.

The technology involved in truck platooning is not identical to the technology used in automated vehicle operations such as driverless cars. But the system serves as a safety measure because of the drivers’ constant communication and the ability to synchronize braking and acceleration between vehicles. In effect, the technology adds a layer to the automated driving tools already available such as cruise control.

Attendees also found the safety component of platooning to be of particular interest. Studies have shown that several mechanisms utilized in truck platooning technology could prevent collisions. The communication component allows drivers to alert each other when they encounter problems.

Further, if the front truck slows down for any reason during platooning, the second truck automatically slows down. The driver does not have to manually slow down. Instead, the operating system does it for them.

In addition to evaluating the potential benefits of adopting this system, the workshop also included constructive discussion about possible obstacles. Infrastructure, geography and weather limit the regions and roadways in which truck platooning could be deployed.

The presentations and discussion at our council meeting proved to be productive and informative. While truck platooning technology is in its earliest stages, it’s potential to increase safety and reduce fuel consumption are promising. By allowing stakeholders to identify and discuss their concerns, this council meeting helped stimulate discussion about the benefits of truck platooning in New York State.

To add your voice to the conversation, contact Russell Owens, technical team lead at Transportation Technologies: rowens@energetics.com.