Autonomy for trucks and shipping continues to gain steam as many efforts initially focused on passenger self driving cars have focused now on commercial self-driving trucks. Achieving public L4 autonomy for trucks across multiple vendors looks increasingly likely in the next year. Efforts in platooning are being pursued by a number of companies including Volvo, Aurora, Locomotion, and others.
Benefits of Platooning
Platooning enables a lead truck to be in control, communication, or coordination with a second or third truck that is following the first vehicle. Thus, the lead truck makes primary decisions on movements and the following trucks mimic the behavior of the lead truck. The following truck is generally positioned about 40-50 feet behind the lead truck. The lead truck and following truck leverage vehicle to vehicle communication to facilitate synchronized movements.
Some of the benefits of platooning are:
1/ Energy Savings - by appropriately positioning following vehicles behind a lead vehicle, the following vehicles can experience less aerodynamic drag. These benefits are estimated to be on order of a 7% energy savings.
2/ Easier Driving - The following vehicle can utilize the intended or actual movements of the lead vehicle to determine its own actions. This eases the computational resources needed by the following vehicle. In the case of a human driver, it can also make the human driver of the following vehicle function more in a supervisory role versus an active driving role. Think cruise control instead of active driving.
About: Accelerate Labs, founded in 2015, has been developing vehicle to vehicle communication technologies useful for platooning. For more information, email as at firstname.lastname@example.org.