Auburn, partners conduct historic truck platooning trial in Canada

By Staff Report

Published: Nov 26, 2018 4:37:00 PM

The truck platoon is seen driving in Canada. The truck platoon is seen driving in Canada.

Auburn University and two of its research partners made history by conducting the first ever on-road commercial truck platooning trial in Canada.

In concert with FPInnovations and Transport Canada, Auburn researchers conducted successful highway platooning tests Oct. 29 through Nov. 2 on highways around Montreal and surrounding areas in Quebec. The platoon consisted of two heavy duty transport trucks.

Truck platooning is an emerging fuel-saving vehicle technology in which the trucks, driven in a convoy, are linked by a computer system that maintains the desired distance between them by controlling acceleration and braking, reacting faster than a driver usually can. Drivers were at the wheels of both trucks the entire time during the trials, but in the future, it may be possible for only one driver to be at the wheel of the lead truck followed by automated trucks. That technology is several years away from being a reality.

“The system combines sensors, measurements from a radar and GPS data with other vehicle information such as brake and throttle status shared over a dedicated short range communication radio in order to maintain accurate gap spacing and enable safe platooning,” said David Bevly, the Bill and Lana McNair Professor of mechanical engineering and director of the GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory. “We believe the testing we were able to perform in conjunction with our Canadian partners helped us move forward in validating the technology. Specifically, it provided us with a unique opportunity here to test in conditions that were new to us, and are grateful for the assistance of Transport Canada and FPInnovations. We look forward to working with them again.”

Auburn has tested its truck platooning technology on U.S. highways before, but these tests offered a new environment for testing.

“We have run the trucks under different weather scenarios before, but this was a first for us in terms of experiencing a combination of rain, ice and snow,” said James Johnson, one of the truck drivers and a research engineer at Auburn University. “The automated braking and acceleration worked well under the weather conditions, and we were pleased with how the trucks performed throughout the testing.”

A distance of between 65 to 100 feet was kept between the two trucks, which allows a passenger vehicle to safely cut in between the vehicles. The truck platoon travelled several hundred miles on highways with normal vehicular traffic.

‘’Auburn’s system proved to be very reliable even in the rainy and snowy conditions we experienced. We were able to spend most of our time on the road with the platooning mode engaged,” said Edouard Proust, a PIT Group engineer with FPInnovations. “This is a great achievement. It’s a little soon to make a conclusion on the data that was gathered but the system reacted properly to vehicle cut-ins and to road conditions.”

Media Contact: Chris Anthony, chris.anthony@auburn.edu, 334.844.3447

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