In the premiere of its Highway Pilot Connect system, Daimler Trucks has linked together three of their self-driving trucks to let them operate on the A52 autobahn as a platoon. This setup is expected to reduce fuel consumption by 7% and nearly halve the road space requirement, and at the same time make the road safer.
The purpose of Daimler Trucks’ Highway Pilot system is to link together a fleet of self-driving, heavy trucks so that they form an aerodynamic, fuel-optimized unit.
Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard of Daimler AG explained that they are aiming at “connecting the truck with the internet.”
“It connects all those involved in goods: drivers, schedulers, fleet operators, workshops, manufacturers and insurance companies or authorities. They receive information in real time which was previously unavailable: about the condition of the tractor unit and semitrailer, traffic and weather conditions, the parking availability at motorway service stations, rest areas and much more.”
Traffic has become a bigger and bigger concern in a more connected world, and therefore has been in great need of innovation. One such innovation involves linking the trucks into a full network.
Each Daimler truck is equipped with approximately 400 sensors that collect valuable information. “For efficient logistics real time data are essential—and our trucks supply these data,” says Bernhard.
“We are investing around half a billion euros by 2020 to connect our trucks with their environment and develop specific new applications. This will enhance our customers’ performance to operate their businesses safer and more environmentally friendly.”
The data gathered by these trucks will prove invaluable to the logistics sector and allow them to function more efficiently and more safely.
Automation also enables the truck platoon to drive with a distance of only 15 meters between them, reducing aerodynamic drag and fuel consumption by up to 7%. The shorter distances between the trucks also means that they take up less space, while the automation brings faster reaction times to make for safer roads.
“This is an important step on our way towards accident-free driving,” said Sven Ennerst, who is the head of Truck Product Engineering and Global Procurement at Daimler Trucks.
The system may be especially important for countries like Australia or the United States, with vast networks of highways and interstates.