Two computer-linked trucks hit Nevada highways this week to test out a relatively new technology called “platooning.”
Platooning is when two trucks drive 30-feet apart. The trucks use a technology similar to Wi-Fi to exchange acceleration and braking information. Platooning allows trucks to basically draft one another, therefore reducing wind and cutting down on fuel consumption.
“Immediately when the first truck starts breaking, the rear truck can apply the breaks within a hundredth of a second compared to the human reaction time of 1 or two seconds,” Joshua Switkes, Owner of Peloton Technology, told KOLOTV.
According to their website, Peloton is “an automated vehicle technology company that utilizes vehicle-to-vehicle communications and radar-based active braking systems, combined with sophisticated vehicle control algorithms, to link pairs of heavy trucks. The safety systems are always active, and when the trucks are out on the open road, they can form close-formation platoons. The system controls braking and acceleration, similar to adaptive cruise control, and drivers remain fully engaged and retain steering control. The dramatic reduction in aerodynamic drag in these platoons provides unprecedented fuel economy savings for both the trailing and the leading truck. A real-time video link lets the rear driver see the road ahead of the platoon. The more extensive data flowing from the trucks also allows new levels of diagnostics and prognostics, while empowering better drivers and stronger fleet management. ”
Nevada Department of Transportation Deputy Director Bill Hoffman told KOLO that many driver errors can be reduced when drivers platoon, because the drivers are in constant communication with one anther.
In addition to safety benefits, platooning can save fleets as much as 10 percent in fuel, Peloton states.
“The platooning aspect is really about fuel efficiency, saving potentially double digits,” Brian Krolicki, Nevada’s Lieutenant Governor, told KOLO.