A new report from ABI Research projects 7.7 million truck platooning systems will ship globally by 2025. The report says truck platoons are the most imminently anticipated application of highly automated driving in commercial vehicles.
As the report explains, a fusion of forward-looking radar and V2V communication enable fleets of trucks to safely maneuver with a short distance between vehicles. The report says the reduction in aerodynamic drag for following vehicles and buildup of pressure behind the lead vehicle yields impressive fuel efficiencies, with various tests reporting convoy savings of between 5% and 10%.
“With most fleet operators attributing some 30 to 40 percent of their operating costs to fuel expenditure, the savings presented by platooning are significant,” comments James Hodgson, research analyst at ABI Research.
As technology progresses and regulations adapt to accommodate greater vehicle automation, further benefits to fleet operators are expected to come in the shape of labor productivity gains and better asset utilization.
The report says current solutions from pioneers such as Peloton Technology require active intervention from the following driver to keep the vehicle within the lane of travel, but in the future, the driver of the lead vehicle could be in sole control of all vehicles in the convoy, thus allowing following drivers to rest or eliminating the need for them altogether.
“The emerging market for platooning is promising; in no small part due to its relevance across a considerable spectrum of vehicle automation. The premise stretches all the way from a platoon comprised of two vehicles whose drivers seek to narrow the interval between them in a safe manner, through to scenarios which involve more vehicles than they do drivers,” explains Hodgson.
The report notes recent high-profile investments in platooning technology have been made by the likes of Volvo Group Venture Capital, Denso International America, Magna International, Intel Capital, and the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund, among others.