Two-year study launched into platooning

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YPSILANTI TWP., Mich. – The American Center for Mobility has gathered the team for a two-year study into platooning commercial and military vehicles — launching what’s described as the first study of its kind in the U.S.

Participating organizations include: Auburn University (Auburn, Ala.), University of Michigan-Dearborn (Dearborn, Mich.), Michigan Department of Transportation (Lansing, Mich.), the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (Golden, Col.), and the United States Army and Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, Mich.

“This is an unprecedented study with extensive implications as the project touches on many aspects of the [connected and autonomous vehicles] ecosystem,” said Jeff Rupp, the American Center for Mobility’s chief technical officer. “Automated truck platooning promises increased fuel efficiency, improved safety and greater throughput on America’s roads. This project is an important step to commercializing and safely deploying the technology.”

The tests will be conducted in controlled environments and on public roads.

Citing unnamed experts, the center says it will take seven to 10 years for autonomously controlled trucks to be safely deployed.

“Unmanned driving has the potential to be a breakthrough capability that can enhance our mission efficiency many times over, and the potential that advancing this work at [American Center for Mobility] brings is extraordinary,” says Bernie Theisen, Ground Vehicle Robotics, United States Army and Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.  “But what we’re most excited and passionate about are the safety advances we can make here and with our other partners.”

A purpose-built facility will look to test the reliability of multi-truck convoys at highway speeds on elevated on-ramps, bridges, overpasses and tunnels in mixed traffic conditions.

The study is expected to conclude with a high-speed demonstration at center facilities.

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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking,, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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