Phase One Report of the Driver-Assistive Truck Platooning Initiative

The Phase One Final Report of the Driver-Assistive Truck Platooning (DATP) initiative was released by the research team recently. The research, funded by a grant from the US Department of Transportation’s Exploratory Advanced Research program, utilizes radar, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and video technologies to decrease over-the-road truck headways, with the objective of improving fuel economy without compromising safety.

ATRI was a core member of the project and was involved in many tasks, including the development and assessment of trucking industry user requirements.

Some of the Phase 1 results identified:

Up to 10 % fuel economy for the trailing truck, and up to 5% fuel economy for the leading truck;

Truckload and line-haul LTL operations would likely be the greatest beneficiaries of a platooning system, particularly among larger fleets;

Fleets and drivers who operate average truck trips of more than 500 miles would experience the highest returns on investment from platooning;

Modelers at Auburn University confirmed that platooning would not negatively impact traffic flows, and could improve traffic flows if truck market penetration reached 60%;

Platoon formation in some operations appears to be feasible, based on a case study using actual truck movement data from ATRI’s truck GPS database;

Small fleets and owner-operators required an investment payback period of 10 months, while larger fleets had a mean payback expectation of 18 months.

In Phase 2 of the DATP project, the research team will be conducting both test-track and on-road pilot testing of the system. They will also monitor and assess a variety of human factors considerations including driver satisfaction, driver training requirements and driver operational experiences.

The DATP research team is led by Auburn University and includes ATRI, Bishop Consulting, Peloton Technology, Peterbilt Trucks, and Meritor Wabco.