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USDOT releases broad agency announcement for truck platooning early deployment and evaluation

The US Department of Transportation has released a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) to assess various aspects of in-service truck platoons that are delivering commercial goods by a fleet operator on their common delivery routes over an extended time.

The objectives of this BAA are to develop an innovative and synergistic truck platooning pilot deployment concept, build partnerships among stakeholders, and prepare a comprehensive deployment plan and proposal that enables the assessment of such a concept.

It will accelerate deployment of cooperative automated vehicle technologies to support the freight industry, enabling trucks to safely follow each other at distances that save fuel, thereby enhancing the economic competitiveness of freight shippers and lowering the costs of landed goods for consumers. The aim is to partner with entities that have already completed development of truck platooning systems and are ready to deploy in-service freight hauling.

As part of this project, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is interested in the evaluation and documentation of best practices related to commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver training, driver fatigue prevention, pre-trip CMV inspections, roadside inspections conducted by State enforcement agency partners, and the operations and maintenance by fleet operators of vehicle components that are critical to safe truck platooning operations.

The overall objective of this Phase 1 requirement is to develop a concept and proposal that sets the stage for an assessment of a commercial vehicle platooning deployment that has an observable and measurable near-term impact, deployed on-time and within budget. The field test deployment and assessment will occur during Phase 2 of the project.

Specific research questions to be answered include:

  • What are the human factors impacts on truck drivers in long-haul operation of a truck platoon? Do they change as a truck driver becomes more familiar with the system? Do they change after a long period of platoon operations? What kind of information will the truck driver need to operate the system (e.g., supplemental displays)?

  • How are the other road users’ behavior impacted in the presence of truck platoon operations (e.g., highway entry/exit points, visibility, signage, etc.)? Is there a value/need for some kind of dynamic platooning indication on platooning trucks to inform surrounding vehicles of platooning operations?

  • How does the gap between the trucks impact the costs / benefits of platooning (fuel saving, safety, operating costs, vehicle maintenance, mobility/travel time) as well as the risks (number of cut-ins, truck driver’s behavior/acceptance/fatigue)? How do road geometries, terrain, weather conditions, visibility (including day/night), and other environmental characteristics and factors impact truck platooning operations?

  • What are the benefits of truck platooning to fleet owners?

  • What are the policy, operational and safety impacts of truck platooning?

More than one truck platoon crossing state lines are targeted. Various data will be collected, both technical and operational, related to the vehicles, environment, and drivers to assess safety, efficiency, and mobility impacts. The data will be analyzed and documented for future recommendations.

The strategy is to partner with and leverage current industry and state agency plans for truck platooning operations and add an additional evaluation component to their plans. The two phases of the project include planning, team building, and development of a phase-two proposal and then project execution.

The deadline for responses is 23 October 2018.

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