Partners involved in a seven month German trial of truck platooning in live traffic have described the technology as ‘safe’ and ‘technically reliable’.
During the test, sponsored by the government in Germany and operated by logistics firm DB Schenker, MAN and Fresenius University, drivers piloted two electronically-linked loaded trucks 15 to 21 metres apart over 35,000 km on Autobahn 9 between the Nuremberg and Munich branches of DB Schenker. The platooning system installed in the MAN trucks operated smoothly 98% of the time and active interventions by the driver were necessary only once every 2,000km – ‘much less than expected’ according to the project partners.
Also, the pilot project demonstrated a 3-4% reduction in fuel consumption and drivers praised driving comfort and the general sense of safety. Alexander Doll, member of the management board for finance, freight transport and logistics at Deutsche Bahn, DB Schenker’s parent, said further tests and improvements to the regulatory framework would be needed.
However, he added: “We have analysed our European transport network and it is safe to say that around 40% of the kilometres travelled could be carried out in platoons.” The project partners said truck platooning has the potential to develop in the future, and added that “new digital business models in logistics are conceivable”.