Platooning MAN Trucks Claim Fuel Savings But Driver Interventions

MAN Trucks says its highway platooning trials have shown fuel savings of up to 4% but with drivers having to intervene every 1,240 miles.

While the automaker claims to be happy with the pilot conducted in cooperation with Fresenius University of Applied Sciences, questions will still hang over how much time drivers will get to take over control from the autonomous technology to avert collisions. The trials saw trucks driving electronically linked in German on the Autobahn 9 between the Nuremberg and Munich branches of the logistics company DB Schenker over the course of seven months. Researchers claim these are the key results of the world’s first field test with truck platoons in real logistics operations.

As part of a research project sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), professional drivers drove two electronically linked vehicles covering about 21,750 test miles driving at a distance of between 50-ft and 70-ft. Drivers reported that vehicles ducking into the gap between the truck was “disagreeable” and would prefer to operate with a smaller gap of as little as 32-ft. The BMVI contributed funding of around $2M to the research project.

Joachim Drees, chairman of the management board of MAN Truck & Bus, said: “We were able to show that platooning has the potential to contribute to the reduction of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. First and foremost, we are pleased that the system works reliably and can increase safety on the motorway. Accordingly, platooning is an important step for us on the way to automation.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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