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DENSO invests in truck platooning company Peloton; platooning as managed service

DENSO International America, Inc. has entered into an investment agreement with Peloton Technology, a developer of platooning systems for large truck transportation fleets. Peloton’s truck platooning system is an integrated safety, efficiency and analytics platform that builds on advanced safety technologies such as collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control systems.

DENSO and Intel Capital co-led the $16-million oversubscribed Series A investment round, which will help accelerate Peloton’s development and deployment of platooning technology. Volvo Group Venture Capital, a subsidiary of the Volvo Group, has also invested in Peloton. (Earlier post.) The deal was finalized late last month.

The Peloton system electronically couples trucks through a combination of vehicle-to-vehicle communications, radar-based active braking systems and proprietary vehicle control algorithms. The safety systems are always active, and when the trucks are out on the open road, they can form close-formation platoons. Peloton’s cooperative braking prevents frontal collisions by automatically applying the brakes on both trucks—eliminating delays of human perception and reaction time for the following truck, which account for more than 100 ft (30 meters) of distance at highway speeds.

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The system controls braking and acceleration—similar to adaptive cruise control; drivers remain fully engaged and retain steering control. The reduction in aerodynamic drag in these platoons provides significant fuel economy savings for both the trailing and the leading truck.

A real-time video link lets the rear driver see the road ahead of the platoon. The more extensive data flowing from the trucks also allows new levels of diagnostics and prognostics, while empowering better drivers and stronger fleet management.

The overall result is enhanced collision avoidance capabilities and increased fuel efficiency for the front and rear trucks in a two-truck platoon.

Trucks with the Peloton System are connected to the cloud. The Network Operations Center (NOC) coordinates trucks to find linking partners on the road and enables cross-fleet platooning. Geo-fencing enables trucks to platoon only on safe roads, in safe conditions, and by safe drivers.

The data available from the platooning system and its sensors provid contextual analytics to fleet managers, such as truck diagnostics, event capture, driver training and predictive maintenance.

Peloton offers its system as a usage-based managed service, charging a per-mile fee when trucks are in platoon and saving fuel. Fleets pay a one-time fee for system hardware and installation so they can equip trucks at minimal upfront cost with a rapid payback period. The analytics and other functionality provide another revenue stream.

For more than a decade, DENSO has been researching and developing V2X technology systems to allow cars to communicate with surrounding vehicles and traffic signals. The application of this technology to the trucking industry could potentially help large fleet vehicles reduce fuel consumption by 10% for the rear truck and 4.5% for the front truck (based on industry-standard SAE J1321 Type II fuel economy testing conducted by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and trucking fleet CR England).

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