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Research Projects Use CACC to Improve Truck Platooning

A photo showing three trucks traveling on a multi-lane highway at equally spaced intervals within a platoon.

Three trucks participate in a platooning demonstration on Interstate 66 in Virginia.

The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program has funded research on technology and strategies to allow two and three long-distance trucks to travel close together in platoons using cooperative adaptive cruise control (CACC).

One research project, titled "Partial Automation for Truck Platooning," was conducted by the University of California (UC) Berkeley's Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology Program, in partnership with Volvo Technologies of America and Cambridge Systematics. The researchers tested CACC using three-truck platoons in real highway traffic.

CACC allows trucks to travel together more smoothly, exchanging information between trucks and automatically adjusting engine and brakes in real time as conditions vary. The researchers at UC Berkeley employed a strategy in which the distance separating the trucks was proportional to their speed.

In another EAR Program-funded project, researchers at Auburn University, in partnership with Peterbilt, American Transportation Institute, Peloton Technology, and Meritor, Inc., are working on a project titled "Heavy Truck Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control." The researchers are focusing on business case analysis, vehicle aerodynamics analysis, and traffic modeling of partially automated two-truck platoons in which between-truck distance is controlled by CACC. The researchers are investigating the fuel savings in two-truck platoons and how CACC allows trucks to drive safely at shorter following distances.

These projects could lead to new levels of freight fleet efficiency and improved mobility for all highway travelers. In addition, they could substantially improve the trucking-based emissions picture, improve fuel efficiency, and enhance the vehicle-to-everything communications environment.

In October 2017, FHWA conducted a demonstration of heavy truck platooning technologies on Interstate 66 in Virginia. While drivers of three tractor trailers continued to steer and monitor the roadway, the CACC system controlled speed adjustments to allow for safe distances between the trucks and other vehicles. A video of the demonstration can be seen here.

For more information about the two research projects, read the fact sheet. For more on the UC Berkeley project, contact Gene McHale at 202-493-3275, Gene.McHale@dot.gov. For more information about the Auburn project, contact Kevin Dopart at 202-366-5004, Kevin.Dopart@dot.gov.

Updated: Monday, December 2, 2019