Platooning is attracting increasing interest from the Canadian trucking industry. Based on track tests conducted in recent months, this new approach may appear on our roads in the not-so-distant future. Beyond fuel savings, this type of truck movement could offer interesting advantages for the industry, and the PIT Group is closely monitoring the situation.
Platooning consists of two to three trucks that follow one another at short distances apart, using wireless communication to transmit data from the lead truck to the other trucks in the convoy; the other trucks can then adjust their position based on the speed, direction and acceleration of the lead truck. At the present time, each of these vehicles always has a driver on board, ready to take back control of the vehicle in case of a problem. Testing conducted in Canada, in which the PIT Group is involved because of its experience in this type of testing, have made it possible to validate various distances and speeds, even reducing the distance between vehicles to as low as 4 metres. The results of these tests will help establish North American standards and operational potential.
The reduction in aerodynamic drag created by the convoy can generate fuel savings of up to 14% under optimal conditions. Given the large number of kilometres that some fleets can cover in a year, the benefits are easy to quantify. In addition to these significant savings, it is anticipated that platooning could eventually respond to the critical shortage of truck drivers, if convoys can be created where only the lead truck has a driver on board. In reducing by one-third or one-half the number of employees required on certain routes, in addition to saving money, fleets would be able to offer better working conditions and be more competitive in hiring qualified drivers, while having better retention power.
The PIT Group continues to monitor this initiative. For more information, please contact Édouard Proust of the PIT Group.