Truck platooning is the linking of two or three trucks in a convoy. These vehicles closely follow each other at a set, close distance by using connectivity technology and automated driving support systems.
The truck at the head of the platoon acts as the leader, with the vehicles behind reacting and adapting to changes in its movement. For example, if the platoon leader brakes, all the other trucks in the platoon also brake.
The trucks automatically maintain a narrow distance between each other when they are connected for certain parts of a journey, for instance on motorways. Parts of the route are still conventionally driven. Moreover, the drivers are responsible for system controls at all times, so they can also decide to leave the platoon and drive independently. Drivers still play a crucial role, so their jobs will be maintained and made more diverse. Truck manufacturers and logistics operators are eager to bring truck platooning to Europe’s roads, and the first real-life tests are underway.
Truck platooning holds great potential to make road transport safer, cleaner and more efficient in the future. Platooning results in a lower fuel consumption, as the trucks drive closer together at a constant speed, with less braking and accelerating. Truck platooning also has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 10%. Likewise, connected driving can help improve safety, as braking is automatic with virtually zero reaction time compared to human braking. Finally, platooning also optimises transport by using roads more effectively, helping deliver goods faster and reducing traffic jams.
Moreover, truck platooning is also part of the industry’s integrated approach to further reducing CO2 emissions. This approach looks at all elements that affect emissions during the use of a truck. Besides the vehicle itself, trailer design, alternative fuels, logistics, infrastructure and intelligent transport systems (ITS) all play a decisive role in bringing down CO2 emissions. With forward-thinking investments in ITS technology, road transport can be made safer, cleaner and more efficient in the future. Indeed, thanks to ITS developments such as truck platooning, the next two decades will see more advances in mobility and transport than the previous century.