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Daimler Trucks tests truck platooning on public highways in the US

Truck Platooning
Daimler Trucks drives digitally connected trucks on selected highways in Oregon and Nevada. © Daimler Trucks

Tests under real life conditions from 2018 on

As the first commercial vehicle manufacturer in the US, Daimler is testing connected trucks in so called platooning operations on public roads in the US. This was announced during the North American Commercial Vehicle Show (Sept 24th – Sept 28th) in Atlanta. In truck platooning connectivity and automated driving improve safety within the vehicle convoys, support drivers and enhance efficiency through closer distances between the connected trucks.

Having started with successful trials on the proprietary proving ground in Madras, Oregon, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) has received the appropriate permission from the regional regulatory body Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). In a first step called “pairing”, DTNA tests its platooning technology in two connected Freightliner New Cascadia truck trailer combinations.

DTNA benefits from proven systems which have successfully been operated by Mercedes-Benz trucks like in the European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016. With this initiative Daimler Trucks North America is reacting to an increasing customer interest in solutions for automated and connected driving in commercial transport. In a joint effort with fleet customers DTNA is working to understand how platooning technology may impact fleet operations (e.g. dispatch, logistics, driver training).

In a joint effort with large fleet customers DTNA will test digitally connected trucks in every day transport business. With its Freightliner and Western Star brands Daimler Trucks is the undisputed market leader accounting for a 40 percent market share in the North American truck market.

Roger Nielsen, President and CEO von Daimler Trucks North America: „We see growing customer interest in platooning. This technology stands for more efficiency and safety. Platooning technology is not meant to replace drivers – it’s designed to help drivers. When the world is ready for platooning, DTNA will have a proven solution. Right now, we are driving Freightliners in platoons every day. I have personally driven one of our trucks in a connected mode. My experience has been impressive.”

Daimler Trucks launches platooning technology in the US

For the past years Daimler Trucks is pioneering technologies on the fields of automated, connected and electrified driving with its truck brands Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner and FUSO. Around the globe Daimler Trucks has already connected around 500,000 trucks to the internet of things – more than any other manufacturer. To digitally connect its Freightliner New Cascadia in the current tests in the US, Daimler combines connectivity with its experience in automated driving. Wi-Fi-based vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) interacts with Freightliners Detroit Assurance 4.0 driver assistance systems featuring Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Assist and Active Brake Assist 4. This technology offers fuel savings to the customer when two or more Freightliner trucks closely follow each other, lowering aerodynamic drag and adding safety, because V2V reaction times have dropped to about 0.2 or 0.3 seconds – while humans normally can respond not faster than one second. Human errors cause 94 percent of the crashes on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the future automated and connected braking between lead vehicle and follower will prevent accidents.

When it comes to platooning, the trucking industry in the US in not only talking about technology, but also – like in Europe – about regulatory issues. As a matter of fact: When the legal framework is set, Daimler Trucks customers will be able to operate their vehicles in platooning mode.

About Daimler Trucks North America

Daimler Trucks North America LLC, based in Portland, Oregon is the leading manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks in North America. DTNA manufactures and markets commercial vehicles under the brand names Freightliner, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses. In 2016, DTNA continued to be the undisputed market leader in the NAFTA region with a market share of 39.3 percent in the Class 6 to 8 weight segment. The DTNA production network extends to nine locations. In addition to the corporate headquarters and the manufacturing plant in Portland, Oregon, there are four production plants in North Carolina (Cleveland, Gastonia, High Point and Mount Holly) plus production plants in Redford, Michigan and Gaffney, South Carolina. DTNA has two more production sites in Mexico (Saltillo and Santiago Tianguistenco).