ATLANTA, Ga. – Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is testing truck platooning on its Madras, Ore., test track as well as public highways.
The company addressed its platooning trials during a discussion to kick off the North American Commercial Vehicle show.
“DTNA is actively testing pairing systems on I-84 and at Madras,” said Roger Nielsen, president and chief executive officer of DTNA. “We are driving Freightliners in platoons every day.”
He said commercial development depends on several factors, including government regulations and public acceptance, but Nielsen said customers are increasingly interested in the benefits.
“When America is ready for platooning, DTNA will have a proven, viable solution ready for our customers,” he said.
The company announced at NACV that it is preparing for a fleet trial early next year. Platooning allows trucks that are paired to reduce fuel consumption. Through vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communications, the lead truck controls the braking of the following vehicles. DTNA says brake reaction times have dropped to 0.2 or 0.3 seconds, much faster than humans can respond.
“Platooning holds the potential to offer significant fuel economy advantages, while assisting drivers,” said Nielsen, who added he has personally driven the new Cascadia under platooning conditions using this technology. “To be sure, the platooning technology is not meant to replace drivers – it’s designed to help drivers.”
The far-reaching discussion, held in front of hundreds of customers and dealers, also touched on electric-powered vehicles. Daimler brand Fuso recently launched an all-electric Class 4 eCanter.
“This is more than a product launch for us, it’s a game changer, a revolution in the making,” said Jecka Glasman of Fuso. “It is a perfect pickup and delivery truck for urban areas.”
Nielsen, when asked if a market for a Class 8 all-electric truck will materialize, said “If I brought out my crystal ball, I’d say sooner than you think.”
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