New Technology Links Semi Trailers

June 3, 2014

Linking Semi Trailers

In recent trends, new trucking technology has been introduced intended to both improve safety and boost fuel efficiency. The technology is being used to link pairs of semi-trucks into aerodynamic, two-truck platoons. The new driver-assisted technology is currently being tested on a stretch of Interstate 80 in Nevada, and was observed this month by Nevada DOT, Nevada Department of Public Safety and Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.

What are platoons?

Platoons decrease the distance between vehicles using electronic or mechanical coupling, linking multiple vehicles and allowing them to accelerate or brake simultaneously. Platoons allow for less space between vehicles, increasing road capacity and decreasing traffic.

Looking into the future

Peloton Technology, the Silicon Valley high-tech firm that invented the system, is an automated vehicle technology company. Peloton stated it came up with the idea as a solution to the $650 billion trucking industry's two biggest issues: accidents and fuel usage. The goal: "Make Peloton-equipped trucks the safest and most efficient trucks on the road."

How does it work?

Using vehicle-to-vehicle communication and radar-based systems, trucks are able to travel very closely together utilizing a system similar to adaptive cruise control with forward collision avoidance technology. The system controls braking and acceleration, but still allows drivers to control steering. It also features on-board sensors and processors for tracking location, assessing road conditions, and identifying hazards. A real-time video link allows the driver to see the road ahead of the platoon, and the network operations center ensures the safest operation mode for given road conditions. The technology is hoped to make conditions safer for both trucks and highway motorists.

A multitude of benefits.

The linked safety systems of paired trucks can be operated by a single driver. The technology also dramatically improves aerodynamics and saves an unprecedented amount of fuel for both trucks, including the leader - double-digit fuel savings according to last year's tests.

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