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February 21, 2018 Vol. 15 No. 4

One of the things that concerns me about platooning is the driver’s side of the equation, especially the poor sap in the following truck. How does the guy in that second vehicle stay engaged — or even awake — as the miles tick by and he has little to do. And little to see but a trailer’s hind quarter 40 ft or so ahead of him. Will he be sufficiently alert to react if things go south?

It’s not a job I would willingly take on.

Well, for what I think is the first time — somebody please correct me if I’m wrong — the human component in this new technology is going to be studied properly, in real ride-along depth.

Last week Germany’s MAN Truck & Bus handed over a small fleet of networked trucks to global logistics giant DB Schenker, based in Hamburg, Germany, to be deployed in a real-world application. The companies call it a logistics industry first. MAN is part of Volkswagen Truck and Bus.

The co-operative venture, in the works since May 2017, will test truck convoys over several months as part of Schenker’s scheduled operations in real-traffic scenarios on the A9 autobahn between Munich and Nuremberg, a run of 105 miles or 170 km. This will be the first time that professional truck drivers, from Schenker, replace test drivers at the wheel. Their experiences, assessments, and evaluations of platooning will be the focal point of the work at Hochschule Fresenius University of Applied Science, founded in 1848 in Munich, Germany, which is providing scientific support for the test as the third partner.

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Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to