US: Ohio tests Truck platooning


Columbus will soon host tests of two-truck platoons guided by technology on one of its busier roadways.

The plan for Alum Creek Drive, a major thoroughfare for the Rickenbacker International Airport logistics hub, is for driverless trucks to closely follow traditionally operated ones synced to control braking and steering. That would allow for closer following distances.

“The anticipated benefit for this deployment is that trucks will take up less precious space on arterial streets, the intersection becomes more efficient, and truck drivers save time and fuel,” the city said in its Smart City Challenge application. Platooning is a “stepping stone” toward fully autonomous semi trucks, the city said.

The test along Alum Creek Drive and Williams Road would use equipment developed by Peloton Technology, a Mountain View, California-based automated vehicle tech company that says its product can reduce fuel use and accidents. Peloton’s operations center would monitor the trucks and watch for changing conditions such as weather, traffic and construction work.

The city acknowledges the potentially high impact if something goes wrong. To mitigate the risk it will require an operator in the second truck to be “ready to assume control of the vehicle in the event of a technology failure.”

Ohio State University’s Transportation Research Center has a seven-mile long high-speed track that will test the platooning first. Outlined in the city’s Smart City Challenge plan, it’s another innovation Columbus plans to pursue in hopes of becoming a model for other mid-sized cities in the country.

Last month the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Columbus $40 million to help carry out its plan, and another $100 million is earmarked from other sources. Much like with driverless cars to be tested in the Linden and Easton areas, Columbus officials think its Smart City program can be a catalyst for truck-platooning growth across the country.


Source: The business journals