Tests by Scania have shown that convoy driving using truck “platoons” can reduce fuel consumption by up to 12 percent. Researchers are now developing a system that will help transport operators to direct their drivers to the nearest convoy.
Scania has been testing convoy driving using truck “platoons” for a number of years. But now the company’s focus on its COMPANION joint research project with KTH Royal Institute of Technology has increased in intensity. The next stage of development involves coordinating truck convoys, thereby making the whole logistics system more efficient.
Magnus Adolfson is Scania’s Manager for Intelligent Transport Systems. “Our hope is that we can produce a solution that substantially reduces fuel consumption for goods transport,” he says. “This will lead to a reduction in environmental impacts and to fleet operators earning more money, thanks to reduced fuel consumption.”
Researchers are aiming to produce a system that allows individual fleet operators to coordinate their transport activities with other operators. The system would allow the operators’ transport planners to input their transport runs, with the system then finding commonalities with other runs.
“A transport service that, for example is on the way from Denmark to Italy might get a proposal from the system to connect with a suitable truck platoon in northern Germany,” Adolfson says.
Vehicles in truck platoons drive close to one another to enjoy the benefits of lower air resistance. To facilitate this, advanced technology and software in the vehicles automatically regulates the distance between trucks and applies the brakes if necessary.
“On the test track we’ve driven with a distance of about 10 metres between the vehicles and we were able to achieve a 12 percent fuel saving for the trailing vehicle,” Adolfson says. “But if you want to get as close as a couple of metres, then you need several automatic systems that also take control of the steering from the driver during the time that the vehicle is in the truck platoon. That’s also something we’re focusing our research on.”