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Truck Platooning Makes Leaps in Safety, Cleanliness, and Efficiency
Photograph by Martin Putz

Truck Platooning leads the way in trucking tech. With this new system in place, drivers may find themselves less stressed on the roads. Platooning reduces the risk of collision, lowers fuel expenditure and CO2 emissions, and reduces the time of transit.

Platooning is the linking of multiple trucks in a convoy via connective tech. The lead truck syncs with trailing vehicles. The system then recognizes when the lead truck experiences traffic changes. Thus, the trucks that are following can adapt.

Platooning brings many other benefits, as well. Automatic braking takes just a fifth of the time a human would need to react. Trucks can travel close, reducing air-drag friction. And the system can optimize road and traffic information to speed up transport.

Truck Platooning: Are We There Yet?

Truck platooning is already available in some forms. European trucks of the same make can already communicate like this. However, eventually, all kinds of brands will need to sync up. In Europe, this is the next step.

The first successful mono-brand platooning occurred in 2016. By 2018, companies were developing multi-brand platooning technology and testing mono-brand platooning in real-life conditions. The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) hopes to safely introduce this tech to the market by 2022.

As we all know, tech works in tandem with legal policy, though. Thus, many European countries are already developing a regulatory framework. Amsterdam kicked events off in 2016. In 2017, multiple EU authorities facilitated cross-border testing. From 2017-2019, countries proposed future tax reductions and bonuses. And from 2018-2021, they are projected to be discussing adjusting national traffic laws.

Looking Ahead

So what does this mean for truckers?

A formal system of platooning is still a long way off. And drivers will still need to be present. In case of emergency, they will have to be ready to intervene.

But if the tech proves successful, this could free up drivers for other activities. The lead driver will likely always need to stay focused. But the tailing drivers might be able to multi-task. They could take calls. Or they could handle paperwork. The safety systems would let them focus on other duties while still being present.

Platooning also reduces the stress of driving. It calculates traffic for you. It handles braking. Trips will be smoother and swifter. The roads will be safer.

The ACEA projects that it will be possible to drive multi-brand platoons across Europe by 2023. Clearly, the United States is not as far along in their examination of platooning. Fully autonomous trucks may be feasible but they’re not on the immediate horizon. So rest easy; drivers are still very much needed. The current goal is to make their jobs easier, not take their jobs away.

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