Daimler Trucks Testing Autonomous ‘Platooning’ on U.S. Highways
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Daimler Trucks Testing Autonomous ‘Platooning’ on U.S. Highways

The technology uses self-driving systems and telematics to connect pairs of trucks, enabling them to travel in tandem at distances closer than what would be possible under manual operation.

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Daimler Trucks North America said it is testing so-called “platooning” technology on public roads in the United States.

The technology uses self-driving systems and telematics to connect pairs of trucks, enabling them to travel in tandem at distances closer than what would be possible under manual operation. The connectivity also improves safety within the vehicle convoys, according to Portland, Ore.-based Daimler Trucks North America.

In the first phase, called “pairing,” Daimler Trucks is testing its platooning technology in two connected Freightliner New Cascadia truck-trailer combinations in Oregon. The testing comes on the heels of successful trials at the company’s proving grounds in Madras, Ore.

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Daimler Trucks North America “benefits from proven systems that have successfully been operated by Mercedes-Benz trucks, like in the European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016.”

“With this initiative, Daimler Trucks North America is reacting to an increasing customer interest in solutions for automated and connected driving in commercial transport,” the company said in a news release.

As part of the tests, conducted with its fleet customers, Daimler Trucks will try to understand how platooning technology and digitally connected trucks might affect fleet operations.

“This technology stands for more efficiency and safety,” said Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America. “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.”

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The technology used in the current tests combines Wi-Fi-based vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) with Freightliner’s Detroit Assurance 4.0 driver-assistance systems, featuring adaptive cruise control, lane-departure assist and active brake assist.

“This technology offers fuel savings to the customer when two or more Freightliner trucks closely follow each other, lowering aerodynamic drag and adding safety, because V2V reaction times have dropped to about 0.2 or 0.3 seconds – while humans normally can respond not faster than one second,” the company said. “Human errors cause 94 percent of the crashes on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the future, automated and connected braking between lead vehicle and follower will prevent accidents.”

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