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Can Truck Platoons Help with Driver Shortage?

July 22, 2019
truck platoon

There’s been a lot of talk about the truck driver shortage which insiders predict will bring gloom and doom to our economy. Consequently, everybody in the industry is trying to drum up an adequate solution. One that hasn’t been discussed a bunch is autonomous truck platoons. It’s lately getting some light buzz and the concept does offer some benefits.

The idea of several semis following each other at intervals of 40 to 60 feet isn’t just a colorful image. Rather, it’s a future imagined by trucking companies who are seeking innovative ways to save fuel while simultaneously addressing the truck driver shortage.

As it stands, the U.S. is anticipated to have a shortage of 176,000 truckers by the year 2026. This data comes courtesy of Rod McLane, vice president for Peloton Technology, a Silicon Valley business that deals with automated technology for freight hauling.

Industry experts say that by platooning digitally linked trucks they can save fuel. Furthermore, a McKinsey study actually pointed out in December 2018 that any potential platooning solution that involves trucks operating without a driver in the second truck wouldn’t arrive on roads until 2022.

The Peloton company won’t declare when its single driver platoon will be ready to roll, nevertheless, the company is creating other solutions that will help fewer drivers carry more freight while not exhausting as much fuel.

Potential Solution

One solution offered by Peloton is PlatoonPro which is a Level 1 driver-assist automated safety technology aimed at commercial trucks. It’s currently available now for particular situations. The technology links tow trucks simultaneously so that they can speed up and brake at the same time. Furthermore, the system demands that both drivers steer, though they are independently in charge of when they begin and end platooning. This set-up does require vehicle-to-vehicle communication be hooked up in both trucks.

Peloton predicts the system will provide a total fuel savings of 7 percent. The lead truck would improved by 4.5 percent and the following truck by 10 percent.

What do you all think about this platooning concept?

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