Peloton aims to curb heavy-duty truck fuel use with smart powertrains and platooning

by Truck West

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Peloton Technology announced it will participate in the Next Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Autonomous On-Road Vehicles (NEXTCAR) program.

Sponsored by the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the NEXTCAR project applies next-generation truck platooning technology and concepts for smart, cloud-connected powertrains to achieve 20% fuel savings for tractor-trailers.

“As we join in launching this national project, we are excited about the team’s complementary strengths in commercial powertrain development, connected vehicle applications, vehicle automation and trucking operations,” said Peloton CEO Josh Switkes. “Our first truck platooning system is coming to market in 2017. This project will build upon our existing system and is complementary to the higher-automation solutions we are developing next. We appreciate the leadership shown by ARPA-E in creating the NEXTCAR program and by Purdue in assembling our team.”
The partnership will include the development, integration and demonstration of a set of co-optimized powertrain and automated driving controls to improve fuel efficiency in tractor-trailers, which, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), consumed over 40 billion gallons of diesel fuel in 2015.

“This cutting-edge project advances private-sector collaboration underway with Peterbilt, Cummins, ZF TRW and others,” said Steve Boyd, Peloton’s vice-president of external affairs. “We are energized to work with these partners in developing and bringing to market the next stage of smart, connected truck systems and higher-automation platooning.”

Peloton will address two key research objectives for NEXTCAR: to increase fuel savings from truck platooning at highway speeds from a baseline average of 7% across two trucks to 20% in combination with connected powertrains; the second being to meet the connectivity requirements of powertrain innovations including over-the-air engine recalibrations and distributed computing between trucks and the cloud.

“We are delighted to have Peloton on the team,” said Greg Shaver, professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue and principal investigator for the project team. “Peloton brings thought leadership and proven, compelling results in Class 8 truck platooning and connectivity. I cannot imagine pursuing this ambitious project without Peloton’s significant participation.”

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