The European Truck Platooning Challenge, the world’s first cross-border heavy vehicle convoy, has manifested the potential of this concept. Neither complicated nor costly, platooning in practice can make a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions.
Even driving at presently permitted distances of some 25 metres, using the trucks’ normal camera and radar equipment, will have a noticeable impact on fuel consumption and thereby carbon emissions. A vehicle driving at 80 km/h and followed by two preceding vehicles at 25 metres benefits from up to 40 percent reduced air drag. Surprisingly, even the leading vehicle takes advantage of platooning, thanks to reduced adverse aerodynamic effects at short inter-vehicle spacing.
The reduced drag will typically reduce fuel consumption by at least 4 percent for the second truck and more than 6 percent for the third truck. In normal European transport operations, fuel constitutes more than one-third of operating costs. Hence, a significant cost reduction can be obtained through truck platooning.
Clear environmental gains
With the shorter distances down to 10 metres achievable using wireless vehicle-to-vehicle communications, as demonstrated by Scania in the European Truck Platooning Challenge, drag is reduced even further and greater fuel savings are obtained. “Since up to half the fuel consumption for a typical heavy vehicle on a flat road can be spent on overcoming the aerodynamic drag, it’s clear that platooning has the potential to provide substantial economic benefits for individual haulage companies in addition to the clear environmental gains,” says Senior Engineer Assad Alam, Driver Assistance Controls, Scania.