A Silicon Valley biking enthusiast wants to use the peloton drafting technique that reduces wind resistance to significantly reduce fuel usage, which they say could double profits for trucking companies.
The company’s founder said he was inspired by the way bicyclists use a peloton formation to reduce wind resistance during races. Peloton Technology’s idea of saving fuel by drafting isn’t new — but his method for making it possible and safe is. They say that using vehicle to vehicle wireless communication, two trucks could pair up while constantly communicating with each other about speed. So if the lead truck hit its brakes, the truck following would slow down automatically without the driver doing anything. Additionally, the following truck would have a screen that showed the view out the windshield of the lead truck, letting the two drivers operate in tandem.
Peloton says that they have platooned trucks 14,000 miles without incident during their testing phase both on closed tracks and the open road. In 2013, the company performed a test, using two 2011 Peterbilt 386s from C.R. England that were fully loaded with pallets on I-80 west of Salt Lake City. The trucks achieved and maintained 64 mph at only 36 feet apart.
And while it might be a bit nerve-wracking (one passenger admitted, “there were times when it felt really close”), the tests showed that the back truck improved its mileage by 10%, while the aerodynamics helped the front truck shave off 4.5%.
After enough customers sign up, Peloton says that they’ll open up a command center to help monitor and control the platooning process. They plan to bill based on the number of miles driven while platooning.
Given the stringency of the new EPA fuel efficiency regulations, platooning might not be as crazy as it sounds.