Volvo Trucks and Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH) at the University of California, Berkeley recently completed a successful demonstration of partially automated truck platooning, made possible by Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control technology (CACC). Three Volvo VNL 670 model tractors hauled cargo containers at the Los Angeles Port complex and along Interstate 110, highlighting platooning technology’s potential for improving highway safety, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the capacity of transportation systems.
“Truck platooning can benefit freight companies and professional drivers alike through safer, more fuel-efficient operations,” said Magnus Koeck, Volvo Trucks’ vice president of marketing and brand management. “Vehicle-to-vehicle communication is pivotal for platooning systems; it helps reduce the reaction time for braking and enables vehicles to follow closer. Reducing the traveling distance between vehicles not only reduces the aerodynamic drag, but also allows for greater highway utilization, thereby helping to alleviate traffic congestion.”
In simulated “real-world” conditions, the three Volvo VNL tractors traveled at speeds of 55 MPH while keeping 50 ft. apart, a closer distance than usual for on-highway tractors. Forward-looking sensors and vehicle-to-vehicle communication helped maintain speed and spacing without driver intervention. Staged and unplanned vehicle cut-ins demonstrated how the technology handles common traffic situations.
CACC technology is an enhancement to the current Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) technology that enables closer and more accurate control of the gap between trucks with increased safety. The advanced technology, which makes platooning possible, is meant to serve as an aid, not a replacement for skilled professional truck drivers. Benefits of platooning through CACC include faster responses to hard braking while maintaining safety, superior longitudinal control while following in a lane, reduced emissions, and improved traffic flow.