Scania has been at the forefront of research and trials of truck platooning, a system that brings together a number of trucks in a closely-aligned convoy (or ‘platoon’) on highways, using electronic coupling technology.
With heavy vehicles currently accounting for 17 percent of total CO2 emissions, platooning has the potential to be an important contributor to meeting the European Union’s goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 20 percent by 2020. Research indicates that introducing platooning on European roads can significantly contribute towards reducing the carbon footprint of trucks, while also increasing capacity and transport efficiency on the roads to improve the flows of goods.
To that end, Scania has recently been the coordinator of the COMPANION Project from 2013 to 2016, a € 5.4 million European Union-funded initiative involving seven partners from four countries, which aims to identify means of applying the platooning concept in practice in daily transport operations.
The COMPANION project builds on the work that Scania has implemented in its own transport operations. For Scania, the benefits of reduced aerodynamic drag are well-established, and the company’s use of platooning has shown that fuel savings of up to twelve percent can be achieved through reduced drag.
In 2016, Scania took part in the European Truck Platooning Challenge, the world’s first cross-border initiative with smart trucks while the company is currently working on enhancing wireless communication between heavy vehicles, which will allow the distances between vehicles to be safely reduced, reducing drag and lowering fuel consumption. For this research, Scania has teamed up with Ericsson, a world leader in communications technology, which will contribute its expertise in 5G technology as well as in software and services, to enable new forms of mobility.
Scania is also now designing the world’s first full-scale autonomous truck platooning operations, based on its own advanced technology. The platoon will traffic public roads while transporting containers between port terminals in Singapore. The aim is to organise convoys of four trucks with the following three trucks behind the lead truck autonomously driven, as well as to fully automate the processes for precise docking and undocking of cargo.
“Autonomous vehicles and platooning are cornerstones of future sustainable transport systems,” says Claes Erixon, Head of Research and Development at Scania. “We are pioneering in this field, which has the potential not only to save lives in traffic, but also to significantly decrease the environmental impact of transport.”