Volvo and FedEx demonstrate truck platooning in the US

The platoon consisted of three trained, professional truck drivers in Volvo VNL tractors, each pulling double 28-foot trailers.

Truck, Platooning, Volvo, FedEx

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Volvo Trucks North America, together with FedEx and the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, used advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) technology to conduct on-highway truck platooning as part of ongoing research collaboration.

The platoon consisted of three trained, professional truck drivers in Volvo VNL tractors, each pulling double 28-foot trailers. Through CACC, a wireless vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology, the tractors and trailers remained in constant communication. The tractors and trailers traveled at speeds of up to 62 mph while keeping a time gap of 1.5 seconds, maintaining a closer distance than what is typical for on-highway tractors. Staged and unplanned vehicle cut-ins demonstrated how the technology handles common traffic situations.

This marks the first public on-highway showcase of platooning technology between a major truck manufacturer and a transportation company in the US. The demonstration is the result of an ongoing research collaboration. Since April 2018, three Volvo VNL tractors have been paired with various combinations of FedEx trailers to simulate real-world routes and trailer loads. The potential benefits of platooning that are being studied during this collaborative research include faster responses to hard braking while maintaining safety and fuel efficiency.

Per Carlsson, acting president, Volvo Trucks North America, said: “Volvo Trucks has long supported platooning because it benefits freight companies and professional drivers alike through safer, more fuel-efficient operations. We continue preparing for deployment of trucks with greater vehicle-to-vehicle communication capabilities that support higher levels of ADAS. We know these technologies will be part of our future, but exact timing depends on many things, namely regulations, infrastructure, safety standards, and market demand.”

Gloria Boyland, corporate vice president, operations and service support, FedEx Corporation, said: “FedEx was built on innovation and it continues to be an integral part of the FedEx culture and business strategy. We are pleased to collaborate with Volvo Trucks and the North Carolina Turnpike Authority to learn more about how platooning technology can benefit our team members while improving fuel efficiency for our fleet.”

Volvo Trucks and FedEx plan to continue developing the Volvo CACC technology into the foreseeable future with the goal of continuing to learn about the potential benefits offered by vehicle platooning. Additionally, this advanced testing will allow the participants to adapt to the technological and regulatory developments that will ultimately determine the commercial viability of platooning technology in the US.

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