Digitization and networking allow trucks to operate safely at short distance. This saves fuel and reduces CO2 emissions. MAN demonstrates its platooning competencies at the “European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016.”
On the motorway A9 near Munich: Two MAN TGX trucks drive behind each other at a distance of about 50 meters. The words “MAN Truck2Truck” are emblazoned on the trailers of the orange trucks. The truck at the back keeps moving closer and closer towards the truck in front of it until there are just about 13 meters between them. The display in the driver cab behind the steering wheel says “Platoon is forming.” The two trucks continue along the road at a speed of 80 kph, driving past exits and bridges, and past the Allianz Arena soccer stadium. The two vehicles, however, are no longer driving independently but instead as a platoon: a connection of two or three automated trucks that operate at a short distance being networked with an electronic drawbar. The driver of the second MAN truck can now lean back. The first truck has taken over command setting the direction and speed of the platoon.
Since the beginning of February 2016, MAN has been testing under real conditions a platoon of two trucks with a train length of 45 meters on the digital test field of the motorway A9, a route section between Munich and Ingolstadt. Having trucks drive in a platoon is said to be one of the most important trends in the transportation industry. In future, even more goods will be transported by ship, aircraft, train, and truck. The major part, however, will be carried on the road — an issue that already overloads the infrastructure today. A truck platoon could be one solution.
Equipped with state-of-the-art assistance and steering systems and connected with communication systems, the vehicles can travel at short distance and at the same time ensure more road safety. Positive effects: Fuel savings of up to ten percent and a reduction of CO2 emissions. The trucks that follow in the platoon can benefit from the aerodynamics of the vehicle ahead; the safety distance between the leading truck and the next one should be no more than one second or around ten meters. Using the slipstream is efficient and saves fuel.
MAN is pushing ahead its platooning technology at great expense and participating in the “European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016” together with other European truck manufacturers. At the beginning of April 2016, semitrailer tractors from various cities in Europe will embark on a journey to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The platooning challenge is an initiative within the framework of the Dutch government that currently holds the EU Presidency and that has made networked and automated driving one of its priorities. As regards the challenge, MAN has already gathered some platooning experience: Already between 2005 and 2009, the Company tested platoons of three and four with a train length of up to 100 meters during a research project.
Since fall 2015, more than 20 employees have worked on the now finished project. Michael Reule and Stefan Jerg, both development engineers, are also part of Daniel Heyes’s team. They are conducting the last tests on runway 6 of the Fürstenfeldbruck airfield before the platooning challenge. In the video, the engineers talk about the project: