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Volvo Trucks and Part­ners for Ad­vanced Trans­porta­tion Tech­nol­ogy (PATH) at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley re­cently com­pleted a suc­cess­ful demon­stra­tion of par­tially au­to­mated truck platooning, made pos­si­ble by Co­op­er­a­tive Adap­tive Cruise Con­trol tech­nol­ogy (CACC). Three Volvo VNL 670 model trac­tors hauled cargo con­tain­ers at the Los Angeles Port com­plex and along In­ter­state 110, high­light­ing for pub­lic of­fi­cials and other stake­hold­ers the tech­nol­ogy’s po­ten­tial for im­prov­ing high­way safety, re­duc­ing green­house gas emis­sions, and in­creas­ing the ca­pac­ity of trans­porta­tion sys­tems.

“Truck platooning can ben­e­fit freight com­pa­nies and pro­fes­sional driv­ers alike through safer, more fu­el­ef­fi­cient op­er­a­tions,” said Mag­nus Koeck, Volvo Trucks vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing and brand man­age­ment. “Ve­hi­cle-to-ve­hi­cle com­mu­ni­ca­tion is piv­otal for platooning sys­tems; it helps re­duce the re­ac­tion time for brak­ing and en­ables ve­hi­cles to fol­low closer. Re­duc­ing the trav­el­ing

dis­tance be­tween ve­hi­cles not only re­duces the aero­dy­namic drag, but also al­lows for greater high­way uti­liza­tion, thereby help­ing to al­le­vi­ate traf­fic con­ges­tion.”

In sim­u­lated “real world” con­di­tions the three Volvo VNL trac­tors trav­eled at speeds of 55 miles per hour while keep­ing 50 feet apart, a closer dis­tance than usual for on-high­way trac­tors. For­ward-look­ing sen­sors and ve­hi­cle-to-ve­hi­cle com­mu­ni­ca­tion helped main­tain speed and spac­ing with­out driver in­ter­ven­tion. Staged and un­planned ve­hi­cle cut-ins demon­strated how the tech­nol­ogy han­dles com­mon traf­fic sit­u­a­tions.

CACC tech­nol­ogy is an en­hance­ment to the cur­rent Adap­tive Cruise Con­trol (ACC) tech­nol­ogy that en­ables closer and more ac­cu­rate con­trol of the gap be­tween trucks with in­creased safety. The ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy, which makes platooning pos­si­ble, is meant to serve as an aid, not a re­place­ment for skilled pro­fes­sional truck driv­ers. Ben­e­fits of platooning through CACC in­clude faster re­sponses to hard brak­ing

while main­tain­ing safety, su­pe­rior lon­gi­tu­di­nal con­trol while fol­low­ing in a lane, re­duced emis­sions, and im­proved traf­fic flow.

The CACC tech­nol­ogy be­ing de­vel­oped in con­junc­tion with PATH has been spon­sored by the U.S. De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion/ Fed­eral High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion Ad­vanced Re­search Pro­gram and Cal­trans. Other project part­ners in­clude Cam­bridge Sys­tem­at­ics, Inc., the Los Angeles County Metropoli­tan Trans­porta­tion Au­thor­ity, and Gate­way Cities Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments.

Platooning presents the best neart­erm op­por­tu­nity for lever­ag­ing any level of au­ton­o­mous tech­nol­ogy for on-high­way op­er­a­tions, where a skilled pro­fes­sional driver re­mains vi­tally im­por­tant. Volvo has also demon­strated a fully au­ton­o­mous truck work­ing in a min­ing op­er­a­tion. Con­fined en­vi­ron­ments or jobs hu­mans can­not per­form re­main the best and most fea­si­ble ap­pli­ca­tions for fully au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles.

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