IN PRINT — Tailgate Party: Platooning questions involve more than tech

Nike wants a runner to complete a marathon in under two hours, but the target will involve more than the company's swoosh-marked shoes. Other marathoners will take turns running in the controlled race, helping to optimize the aerodynamic conditions that can be leveraged by the record hopeful who will tuck in behind them. It's not the only sport to leverage the pulling forces of "drafting". The concept has been used everywhere from cycling's Tour de France to the ovals of NASCAR. With the help of emerging technology such as adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation systems, trucking could be on the cusp of realizing the same techniques - using automatically set following distances in a process known as platooning.

Daimler shows off semi-autonomous platooning

DUSSELDORF, GERMANY -- Daimler Trucks has taken its leading-edge status one rather large step forward with the introduction of its Highway Pilot Connect platooning system. In a demonstration here today, three semi-autonomous Mercedes-Benz Actros tractors pulled their trailers down the A52 autobahn in a platoon formation -- 15 meters or 49 ft apart -- and eventually into the massive hall where some 300 journalists had been assembled for the occasion. It's a world first, of course. We've seen platooning demonstrations before, going back several decades in fact, but never with semi-autonomous trucks. Three semi-autonomous Mercedes tractor-trailers form a three truck platoonHighway Pilot Connect is based on the existing Highway Pilot system that Daimler showed off in 2014 with its Future Truck 2025 program, the first semi-autonomous heavy truck to hit the road. That was dramatic but it was on a closed German highway. It was followed last May with the introduction by Daimler Trucks North America of the Freightliner Inspiration Truck which travelled down some very public roads in Nevada. And it was licensed to do so, also a world first.

Investment, Report Give Boost to Truck Platooning

ARLINGTON, VA and SOUTHFIELD, MI -- The concept of using wireless communication along roadways and in trucks to pair big rigs so they travel closely together has taken two steps forward. The vehicle technology supplier Denso International America Inc., along with Intel Capital, has entered into a US$16 million investment agreement with Peloton Technology, to help accelerate Peloton's development and deployment of platooning technology. The deal, which was finalized late last month, but just announced this week, aims to increase fuel economy and improve safety for the global trucking industry, according to Michigan-based Denso.