Western Australia is taking the first steps towards automated heavy haulage with the introduction of a truck platooning trial likely to take place next year.
What is truck platooning?
Truck platooning is a form of truck convoy. Vehicles maintain constant communication with each other using V2V technology (vehicle to vehicle) to synchronise speed, braking and road positioning in an effort to maximise fuel efficiency and improve road safety.
The V2V technology allows drivers to maintain control of their vehicle’s steering and have access to a real-time, truck-to-truck video stream that provides over-the-horizon alerts and enhanced vehicle safety features.
Truck platooning is already underway in Europe and the United States and the Western Australian government is the first of Australia’s legislative authorities to get involved in the project, which was announced at the Intelligent Transport Systems 2016 World Congress.
Joining the Western Australian government in the trial project is Peloton Technology, Telstra, the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative and the Western Australian Road Transport Association.
Keeping Australia at the leading edge of transport technology
According to US-based technology provider, Peloton Technology, the V2V platooning system is similar to Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control (CACC) and allows vehicles to accelerate and brake virtually simultaneously, at a faster rate than humans and even radar-sensors can react.
Two heavy haulage vehicles travelling as a truck platoon is enough to create significant aerodynamic benefit due to the reduction in drag for both vehicles. Drag is a significant mechanical force that opposes a vehicle’s motion on the road. When large vehicles are travelling long distances, any means of reducing drag is worth investigating because of the difference it makes to fuel consumption. The issue of drag is addressed during vehicle design as well as being a continuous factor in maximising a vehicle’s operating efficiency.
Due to the distances and remote location of some of Western Australia’s road systems, Telstra’s 4G and future 5G networks will form the mobile IT infrastructure necessary to facilitate the V2V communication technology.
Details of the trial have not been finalised, but the Western Australian government’s approval of the plan has been viewed by the heavy haulage transport industry as a positive step and an excellent opportunity to actively participate in the innovations that are currently sweeping the transport sector in the areas of safety and productivity.
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