Trucks talking to each-other in multi-brand platooning project

19 October, 2017 - 00:00

In a new Swedish research project DB Schenker will test platooning with trucks from both Scania and Volvo to reduce carbon emissions and to improve goods transport efficiency. The full potential of platooning can only be realized when trucks from different manufacturers communicate and find each other.

Authorities, academia and corporations in Sweden aim to stay in the forefront in developing autonomous vehicle technology. DB Schenker has therefore teamed up with Scania, Volvo, the Royal Institute of Technology, RISE, Research Institutes of Sweden and the Swedish Transport Administration in the project Sweden4Platooning.

Platooning will only have broad market reach if systems are harmonized across all brands with reliable and robust communication in all traffic situations. The project aims to demonstrate the feasibility of multi-brand platoons with Scania and Volvo trucks in DB Schenker’s operations.

“Except for the significantly important possibility to reduce carbon emissions, we want to intercept what platooning could benefit in regard to traffic flows and the utilization of transport infrastructure”, says Mats Grundius, CEO at DB Schenker Sweden.

DB Schenker utilizes trucks from different manufacturers in their daily operations which constitutes invaluable points of analysis in real-time situations.

“Thanks to the possibility to test in real traffic we will be able to gather invaluable data to continue developing the technology”, says Jan-Ove Östensen, head of Vehicle Automation at Volvo Group.

When trucks can drive closely behind each one another, fuel economy is improved as a result of the reduction in drag. Drag accounts for 25% of a truck’s fuel consumption, and the closer the trucks drive to each other, the greater the fuel saving potential. Using wireless technology, the trucks can drive with only about a one-second gap between the vehicles in a platoon.

“Early tests show that fuel savings potential at a 1 second gap driving 80km/h lands at 3-7% depending on where the vehicle is in the platoon. Platooning has the potential to improve traffic flows on highways and to decrease the environmental impact of transport, however the technology will only reach markets broadly if vehicles from more than one brand can find each other”, says Gunnar Tornmalm, head of Predevelopment, Systems Development at Scania.

By communicating with each other, the trucks automatically match each other’s speed and braking. Essentially, this means that the reaction time for braking is reduced to zero. The wireless technology ITS-G5 (a.k.a. IEEE 802.11p) has been selected for communication between the trucks.

“This project constitutes an important step towards harmonization and paving the way for introducing platooning on public roads”, says Hamid Zarghampour, Chief Strategist in Connected and Automated Transports at the Swedish Transport Administration.

To operate trucks platoons on public roads several different aspects need to be synchronized and well-managed. The project will examine the overall requirements and interface for on-board truck systems and cloud communications to allow trucks and fleets to find each other in order to platoon. Scalable and reliable wireless communications between vehicles and safety aspects are other vital factors that will be studied.

“Platooning is a great technology for improving fuel economy and safety of goods transport, but to reach its full potential there is a need for careful on-line coordination and matchmaking. In Sweden4Platooning this will be studied in a multi-brand setting. This will enable new cooperation opportunities between competing businesses and truly explore the win-win potentials of collaborative transport systems”, says Jonas Mårtensson, Assistant Professor in Automatic Control at the Royal Institute of Technology.

“The Sweden4Platooning project also helps to increase general knowledge on systems-of-systems, something that will be beneficial in other applications areas”, says Jakob Axelsson, Professor of Computer Science at Mälardalen University and Director of the Software and Systems Engineering Laboratory at RISE SICS.

The three-year research project until December 2019 has a funding of four million euro, of which Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency, together with Strategic Vehicle Research and Innovation (FFI) contribute 1,85 million euro.