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Daimler to Test Autonomous Truck Platoons in the U.S.

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【Summary】Daimler is testing connected trucks in platooning operations on public roads in the U.S. The news was announced during the North American Commercial Vehicle Show taking place this week in Atlanta, Georgia.

Original Eric Walz    Sep 25, 2017 1:22 PM PT
Daimler to Test Autonomous Truck Platoons in the U.S.

ATLANTA — Daimler is testing connected trucks in platooning operations on public roads in the U.S. The news was announced during the North American Commercial Vehicle Show taking place this week in Atlanta, Georgia.

Truck platooning works by using two or more autonomous trucks linked together with self-driving software. The additional autonomous trucks can be programmed to follow close behind the lead truck,The additional trucks' speed, lane position, and other features such as automated cruise control and braking are controlled by the lead truck, so any autonomous driving decision the lead truck makes the other trucks perform the same action.

The lead truck has the benefit of utilizing the extra sensors, including cameras and lidar from the other trucks in the platoon to make traveling on the highways safer. Using truck platoons, connectivity and automated driving improve safety within the vehicle convoys, and enhance efficiency and aerodymanics through closer distances between the connected trucks.

Having started with successful trials on Daimler Trucks North America's (DTNA) proving ground in Madras, Oregon, DTNA has received the appropriate permission from the regional regulatory body Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). In a first step called " pairing", Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) tests its platooning technology in two connected Freightliner New Cascadia truck trailer combinations.

DTNA has successfully operated Mercedes-Benz trucks in the European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016. DTNA is working to understand how platooning technology may impact fleet operations, such as dispatching, logistics, and driver training. In a joint effort with large fleet customers DTNA will test digitally connected trucks in everyday transport business.

"We see growing customer interest in platooning. This technology stands for more efficiency and safety. Platooning technology is not meant to replace drivers – it's designed to help drivers. When the world is ready for platooning, DTNA will have a proven solution. Right now, we are driving Freightliners in platoons every day. I have personally driven one of our trucks in a connected mode. My experience has been impressive", said Roger Nielsen, President and CEO von Daimler Trucks North America.

For the past several years, Daimler Trucks has been working on technologies in the field of automation, connectivity, and electrified driving with its three truck brands, Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, and FUSO. Globally, Daimler Trucks has already connected around 500,000 trucks to the internet of things (IoT)—more than any other manufacturer.

To digitally connect its Freightliner New Cascadia in the current tests in the U.S., Daimler combines connectivity with its experience in automated driving. Onboard the trucks, a Wi-Fi-based vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) interacts with Freightliner's Detroit Assurance 4.0 driver assistance systems, which features adaptive cruise control, lane departure assist, and active brake assist. This technology offers fuel savings to the customer when two or more Freightliner trucks closely follow each other, lowering aerodynamic drag and adding safety, because V2V reaction times have dropped to about 0.2 or 0.3 seconds, while humans normally can respond no faster than one second.

According to the National National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), human errors cause 94 percent of the crashes on the road. In the future, automated and connected braking between a lead vehicle and follower vehicle will prevent accidents.

When it comes to platooning, the trucking industry in the U.S. is facing regulatory issues. However, once the legal framework is set, Daimler Trucks customers will be able to operate their vehicles in platooning mode. With its Freightliner and Western Star brands Daimler Trucks accounts for a 40 percent market share in the North American truck market.


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