KTH and Scania are preparing a wireless network system in which vehicles communicate with each other in real time. The system detects a route via GPS and, for example, obtains information about a road closure in order to take advantage of the vehicle in the best route. Also, by communicating with traffic lights, a truck knows whether braking is necessary or whether it can continue at the same speed.
One part of the project is dealing with so-called "platooning." This is when, for example, a convoy of six to eight vehicles follows a leading truck and they all maintain the distances between each other. With today's adaptive cruise control, the distance to other vehicles is about 25 meters (about a second in time). If the trucks could run closer together, the drag would be reduced, lowering fuel consumption by up to 20 percent.
Henrik Pettersson, the project coordinator from Scania, says, "If we can show that we can save fuel and create a more efficient transport system, there is incentive for continued development."
As a part of the project Scania/KTH and nine other teams - including three from Sweden - recently participated in a test in Holland. The purpose of the event was to evaluate, under real-world conditions, the network systems that different vehicle manufacturers are currently developing. The best results were achieved by a German team using a Volkswagen Passat and an Audi Q7. Scania/KTH placed fourth.
"We are very pleased with the results and the outcome of the test, " says Pettersson. "It showed that it is possible to execute platooning with different types of vehicles - from small Smart cars to heavy trucks - all using different control strategies. The Scania/KTH team performed well despite the disadvantage using a truck."