As the name implies “Truck Platooning” is the formation of a platoon of trucks on highways following each other at established close distances by communicating with each other through smart automated vehicle technologies, with capabilities to brake and stop as the situation and road conditions warrant. The truck in the front acts a platoon leader and the trucks behind react and adopt to the movements of the platoon leader. The benefits of truck platooning include reduced fuel consumption and carbon-di-oxide emissions, improved safety, efficient use of roads, and faster delivery of goods. Truck platooning is considered as the future of the freight industry. Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) and Cooperative Adoptive Cruise Control (CACC) are at the core of current truck platooning technology.
In a platoon, the connected trucks communicate with each other via DSRC, which is a radio communication at 5.9 GHz transmission. The DSRC enables vehicle-to-vehicle communication, commonly referred to as V2V. The DSRC also enables vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication, where vehicles can collect information from and send information to physical infrastructure equipped with sensors, including highways, bridges, and traffic signals. The CACC technology is augmenting the existing adoptive cruise control (ACC) technology with V2V communication. ACC is currently available in most recent vehicles reasonably equipped. The integration of ACC and V2V technologies in CACC helps control the gap between trucks in a platoon. Other components of the truck platooning technology include millimeter-wave radar, infrared laser radar, and cameras to detect objects and lane markings, a computer to run the system control software, and an interface to the throttle and brake systems (longitudinal control) and an interface to the steering control system (lateral control).
This paper presents a state-of-the-practice of truck platooning technology, including policy, regulatory, and technological challenges and opportunities, and an envisioned timeframe for the implementation of the technology. Several demonstration projects on truck platooning conducted in the past have been highlighted, including the demonstration of a truck platooning system on September 14-15, 2017 on I-66 in Virginia, near Centerville. The I-66 demonstration was the most robust demonstration of truck platooning system considering that it was done on a highway in real traffic conditions, one of the busiest and most congested in the nation. This demonstration involved a platoon of three trucks and stretched over 8 miles of busy highway traffic.