Platooning: Driving safety of the commercial fleet
As we continue to work our way toward a world with zero accidents, engineers are tirelessly creating new technologies that allow vehicles, including those in the commercial space, to communicate effectively and efficiently with everything around them. Trucks connected with Wi-Fi and using advanced safety sensors, such as radars and camera systems, are expected to reduce the number of accidents on the road, as they are able to sense the world around them and react better to their surroundings. But is “seeing” the world around a vehicle enough to improve the safety of our roads?
Let’s start by taking a look at V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) communication. With the aid of ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems), V2V allows a vehicle to leverage data collected from neighboring vehicles, such as locations, speeds, steering-wheel positions, and brake statuses, to paint a more detailed picture of its exact surroundings. By talking to other vehicles, V2V can predict their behaviors and warn drivers of any imminent hazards before they happen—all in a fifth of the time it would take a human.
Aptiv was the first to bring this technology to market with the introduction of V2V modules, using DSRC (dedicated short-range communications) in the 2017 Cadillac CTS. Since then, companies have been exploring ways to harness V2V technologies in the commercial-vehicle market as well, to make significant strides in transforming the way we deliver goods, people, and services.
Follow the leader
So how exactly does platooning relate to this? For background, platooning is the linking of two or more trucks in convoy using V2V technology, where the vehicle leading the platoon will share data and inform the direction of the following trucks to synchronize movements. For example, if the lead vehicle brakes abruptly, the other platoon vehicles behind it will be informed and brake simultaneously with minimal delay.
Platooning technology ultimately has the potential to provide the pathway towards high levels of safety in the commercial space, particularly with heavy- and medium-duty trucks. The use of vehicle technologies to support the driver is a widely accepted concept for both commercial and passenger vehicles, and the next step is to combine several connected vehicles to form platoons.
While the concept of vehicle platooning has been around for years, many overlook the benefits that could come from leveraging V2V systems in the commercial space:
- Increased fuel efficiency—Vehicles moving in convoy reduce the air resistance and allow for more efficient fuel consumption. Platoons are predicted to reduce carbon dioxide levels up to 16% from trailing vehicles and up to 8% from the lead vehicle.
- Safety—Currently, human error is a contributing factor in more than 90% of road collisions. Advanced safety systems promise to enhance the safety and convenience of the driving task with increased reaction times.
- Accelerating traffic flows—Platooning reduces the distance between each vehicle, which ultimately shrinks the amount of space a vehicle uses on the road. Platooning of vehicles could ease traffic congestion and increase highway capacity by as much as 500%.
To drive change when it comes to reducing injury and fatalities on our roads, we need to innovate and deploy technologies that allow vehicles to “talk” to one another and think intuitively. V2V platooning has the potential to drive us towards high levels of safety in the commercial space, getting us one-step closer to a world with zero accidents.