Platooning Peloton’s vision for trucking: drivers lead, technology follows

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Driver Assistive Truck Platooning is providing real safety and fuel efficiency benefits today, according to Peloton Technology CEO Josh Switkes. (Courtesy: PELOTON TECHNOLOGY)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Peloton Technology Inc., a connected and automated vehicle technology company, Wednesday unveiled its vision for doubling the productivity of drivers through the development of its new Level 4 Automated Following solution during the Automated Vehicle Symposium 2019 here.

“We’ve taken a different approach to commercial introduction of automation in Class 8 vehicles.” said Peloton Technology CEO Josh Switkes. “We see the drivers as the world’s best sensors, and we are leveraging this to enable today’s drivers to be more productive through automated following platoons.”

Peloton’s Automated Following is an advanced platooning system using vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology to enable a single driver to drive a pair of vehicles and marks the next major milestone in Peloton’s unique approach to deploying automation to increase the safety and productivity of commercial vehicles.

Platooning and automated following systems work by utilizing V2V communications and radar-based active braking systems, combined with vehicle control algorithms. Peloton’s proprietary technologies link pairs of heavy trucks for connected driving that improves aerodynamics, fuel economy, and safety.

Peloton’s Level 1 (driver assistive) system, PlatoonPro, has a driver in both the lead and follow trucks. The driver in the follow truck steers, but the system controls the powertrain and brakes to manage the following distance very precisely and to provide immediate reaction to whatever acceleration or braking the lead truck performs.

PlatoonPro has now operated with six customers and additional customer fleet trials are under way. In each case the customer and Peloton have seen a perfect safety record.

“Customer trucks have shown fuel savings averaging over 7%, and we have seen very high percentages of miles platooned, as high as 90%,” Switkes said. “Platooned miles per day have exceeded 700 miles per truck in some cases, resulting in projected fuel savings per truck up to $7,000-10,000 per year.”

Platooning is the key enabler to making driverless semi-trucks a reality, Switkes said.

“Leveraging experience in deploying a commercial L1 platooning system, PlatoonPro, Peloton’s new Automated Following system is an SAE Level 4 autonomous solution that connects a fully-automated follow truck with a driver-controlled lead truck to platoon. The V2V link allows the human driven lead truck to guide the steering, acceleration and braking of the follow truck and connects the safety systems between the trucks. with minimal latency,” he said.

Peloton’s unique approach of combining the experience of a human driver in the lead truck with state-of-the-art sensors and hardware in the follow truck greatly simplifies many of the technical challenges the vehicle automation industry faces with deploying standalone SAE Level 4 driverless systems.  Peloton will be able to bring this solution to broad applicability for the industry on a rapidly increasing set of routes, weather conditions, and traffic conditions, expanding these operations much more rapidly than standalone (single vehicle) L4 solutions.

The professional driver is at the heart of the new Peloton L4 Automated Following solution much like they are with Peloton’s L1 commercial system, PlatoonPro.

“We continue to leverage drivers for their skills, experience and intuition, and engage with both Peloton test drivers as well as fleet drivers in all aspects of product design, development and testing,” Switkes said. “Our vision with the new L4 Automated Following product is to develop and commercially deploy a solution that will enable drivers to benefit from the ongoing commercial driver shortage by doubling the amount of freight they can haul in a single trip. This will result in improved work for drivers through better routes, schedules, and compensation, as well as better quality of life through expanding hub-to-hub and relay-style operations that allow drivers to be home with their families every night.”

 

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