Silicon Valley firm’s truck platoon technology saves fuel
A Silicon Valley company has figured out a way to make a long-haul truck both safer and more efficient: Create a two-truck platoon.
Officials from state transportation agencies gathered at the Wadsworth rest stop east of Reno last week to see the technology developed by Peloton Technology in demonstration runs along Interstate 80.
The company’s technology uses vehicle-to-vehicle communication and radar-based active systems to allow two trucks to travel closely together. The technology works something like cruise control, allowing the drivers to stay fully engaged and in control of the trucks’ steering.
The two-truck platoon operates with better aerodynamics than a single truck traveling by itself. Peloton says a test by fleet operator CR England verified that fuel savings were 7 percent for a platoon traveling at 65 miles per hour — 10 percent for the rear truck and 4.5 percent for the lead truck. Peloton says fuel typically accounts for about 40 percent of the operating cost of a long-haul trucker.
The company says its technology also improves safety because its system controls braking, which eliminates the delays of human perception and reaction time. This will prevent many frontal collisions.
Trucking using the Peloton system are connected through cloud-based computing, and the company’s operation center coordinates trucks to find linking partners on the road. That means that trucks from two separate operators might be linked as a platoon.
The company sells its hardware, then charges a per-mile fee whenever trucks are traveling in platoon.
Troy Dillard, director of the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, was among those attending last week’s demonstration.
He noted that the state is among the first to allow the testing of autonomous vehicles, and Nevada officials have a growing interest in technology that improves efficiency of highway travel.
Federal Highway Administration funding helped finance development of the Peloton system.
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