Platooning Alberta trucks now collecting data

(Photo: AMTA)

Data collection is now underway in a test of platooning trucks in Alberta, the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) has announced through an online post.

The AMTA began a trial phase of the cooperative truck platooning system (CTPS) in September 2021, looking to see how a pair of electronically coupled Peterbilt 579s would perform. Now the focus turns to collecting data about on-road, human factor, and fuel efficiency issues.

Dubbed Daisy and Lily, the two trucks are operated by Bison Transport drivers. The underlying driver assistance system, a Pronto AI Co-pilot, allows the tractor-trailers to reduce following distances to lower aerodynamic drag and increase fuel efficiency. The vehicle to the rear responds to the braking and acceleration of the lead vehicle.

Based on earlier tests, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) concluded that fuel savings can average close to 4% across two trucks which maintain following distances of 40-50 feet. Trucks in the rear position of such platooning tests have seen fuel economy improve by as much as 10%.

Transport Canada says 6% fuel economy gains are possible in platoons of three tractor-trailers that each weigh 65,000 lb., when the vehicles are spaced 17.4 meters (57 feet) apart at highway speeds. Earlier tests on a track in Blainville, Que. realized savings as high as 14.2% in a controlled setting.

Vehicle trials for the Alberta project will run on the Queen Elizabeth 2 Highway, between Calgary and Edmonton, until April 2022.