Trucking News Online

Initial DOT Study Supports Fuel Benefits of Truck Platooning

May 29, 2015 By: Trucking News Staff Tags: Fleet Management, Fuel, News, Safety, Technology

The first phase of a final report on the Driver-Assisted Truck Platooning (DATP) initiative shows that following trucks in a platoon gain up to 10 percent in fuel economies with the lead truck showing a 5 percent gain.

The DATP truck platooning research, which was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Exploratory Advanced Research program, utilizes radar, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and video technologies to decrease over-the-road truck headways, with the objective of improving fuel economy without compromising safety.

Some of the Phase 1 results identified:

  • Up to 10 percent fuel economy for the trailing truck, and up to 5 percent fuel economy for the leading truck
  • Truckload and line-haul LTL operations would likely be the greatest beneficiaries of a platooning system, particularly among larger fleets
  • Fleets and drivers who operate average truck trips of more than 500 miles would experience the highest returns on investment from platooning
  • Modelers at Auburn University confirmed that platooning would not negatively impact traffic flows, and could improve traffic flows if truck market penetration reached 60 percent
  • Platoon formation in some operations appears to be feasible, based on a case study using actual truck movement data from ATRI’s truck GPS database
  • Small fleets and owner-operators required an investment payback period of 10 months, while larger fleets had a mean payback expectation of 18 months.

In Phase 2 of the DATP project, the research team will be conducting both test-track and on-road pilot testing of the system. In addition, the team will monitor and assess a variety of human factors considerations, including driver satisfaction, driver training requirements and driver operational experiences. The business case analysis will be extended based on these results.

The DATP research team is led by Auburn University and includes ATRI, Bishop Consulting, Peloton Technology, Peterbilt Trucks and Meritor Wabco. As a core team member of the project, ATRI was involved in multiple tasks including the development and assessment of trucking industry user requirements. It was also the Project Lead for development of the business case for truck platooning.