Having proved that platooning helps reduce fuel consumption, Scania is now moving ahead with the concept and adapting it for widespread use.
Scania was among the first heavy vehicle manufacturers to explore platooning and put the concept into practice with the help of the adaptive cruise control system. This work confirmed earlier hypotheses: Even when the distances between vehicles involved were well within those permitted by current road safety legislation, platooning substantially reduced fuel consumption.
Now it’s time for Scania to take the next steps and move towards widespread platooning. Development activities are presently under way to enable wireless communication between trucks and buses. This will allow for the distances between vehicles to be safely reduced, reducing drag and lowering fuel consumption by up to 15 percent.
Need for adjustment
Scania is working with industry partners, including Spain’s Cerezuela Transport, a company with a fleet of 230 vehicles, to lead the way in large-scale platooning.
Anders Johansson, a specialist in intelligent transport systems at Scania, says Scania is focusing on the organisational prerequisites for cooperative driving.
“There is money to be saved from platooning, but it will require customers to adjust traditional strategies for optimising transport,” he says. “Coordination of several trucks into platoons will affect transport plans. To help our customers with this challenge, we need a better understanding of transport scheduling, which requires a transition for us as well.”
Initially, schedules will need to be adjusted. To use platooning, transport companies will need to follow a timetable, just as a traveller using public transport does.
In this new transport environment, trucks will join and leave platoons according to their specific delivery routes. Transport companies will require information on possible platoons to join with precise routing and time slots.
The number of platoons will increase, and in future trucks wishing to join platoons could also join passing trucks much in the same way as taxis are hailed on the pavement. Or they could scan the immediate area for prospective platooning partners.
“Scania can well become the needed communications hub as we move higher up in the value chain,” Johansson says. “We will manage systems and obtain a full understanding of routes, loads and other factors that will be decisive in enabling smooth and effective platooning.”
Scania-coordinated platooning will likely start small, with just a few companies, says Johansson. “As these companies benefit from platooning,” he says, “other customers will discover the potential of platooning, and this will continuously increase the number of available platoons.”