In recent years, many startups and large companies have developed automated driving technologies and business strategies. They generally aim to solve three major issues that are safety, fuel costs, and driver shortages. The trucking world could be shaped significantly by such autonomous vehicle tech in the coming years.
A Silicon-Valley-based truck automation company, Peloton Technology unveiled its vision for doubling the productivity and safety of drivers through the development of its new Level 4 Automated Following solution. Their highly autonomous driving system for trucks could potentially allow one human driver to control more than one vehicle seamlessly.
Peloton’s new Automated Following is an advanced version of the earlier PlatoonPro system that enables a single driver to drive a pair of vehicles. The company says “Level 4 Automated Following” will double the productivity of truck drivers.
The Following Technology wirelessly links two separate vehicles at the core through software, allowing control when the autonomous version is following 55 feet behind. The driver manages the steering, acceleration, and braking of the lead truck and the trailing truck responds based on what the human-driven ahead does. This can reduce the fuel costs for the following trucks by cutting aerodynamics drag. Drivers could see their productivity double overnight and relieve fleet owners desperate to recruit more skilled drivers.
“We’ve taken a different approach to commercial introduction of automation in class 8 vehicles,” said Peloton Technology CEO, Josh Switkes. “We see the drivers as the world’s best sensors, and we are leveraging this to enable today’s drivers to be more productive through automated following platoons.”
Platooning and Automated Following systems work using V2V communications and radar-based active braking systems, combined with vehicle control algorithms.
The company is currently using the PlatoonPro system with six customers and claims that in each case, the customer and Peloton have seen a perfect safety record.
Peloton also claims that it has recorded fuel savings as high as 7% in trials, and their customers are happy with the performance so far. “Platooned miles per day have exceeded 700 miles per truck in some cases, resulting in projected fuel savings per truck up to $7,000-10,000 per year,” they added in a release.