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Daimler Trucks testing truck platooning on public highways in the US

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is testing connected trucks in platooning operations on public roads in the US. 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 Daimler Trucks North America’s proving ground in Madras, Oregon, DTNA has received the appropriate permission from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). In a first step called “pairing”, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is testing its platooning technology in two connected Freightliner New Cascadia truck trailer combinations.

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DTNA benefits from proven systems which have successfully been operated by Mercedes-Benz trucks as in the European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016. (Earlier post.) 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 market leader accounting for a 40% market share in the North American truck market.

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.

—Roger Nielsen, President and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America

Daimler Trucks has been developing automated, connected and electrified driving technologies 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 connect its Freightliner New Cascadia digitally 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 Freightliner’s 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; humans response time is usually not faster than one second. Human errors cause 94 percent of the crashes on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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