A new Federal Highway Administration research project will test "platooning" two trucks with the goal of saving fuel and decreasing traffic congestion.

During a panel discussion on the current state and the future of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology during the American Trucking Associations' annual Management Conference and Exhibition last month, Alan Korn, director, advanced brake system integration for Meritor Wabco, spoke about the Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control Project.

FHWA awarded a contract for the project in early October to a team led by Auburn University in Alabama, supported by Peloton, the American Transportation Research Institute, Peterbilt and Meritor Wabco.

The team will research partial automation for two-truck platooning, integrating vehicle-to-vehicle communications with adaptive cruise control so the following truck will always be at a safe, yet close, following distance.

FHWA wants to see if this technology can increase traffic flow and save fuel, as well as test for system robustness.

Some of the challenge involved, Korn said, include:

• How the system reacts to passenger car cut-ins or other highway anomalies

• How to find similarly equipped vehicles on the road for your platoon

• What are the responsibilities of the lead driver

• What's the return on this investment.

"What's going to be very important is what data should be transmitted to the drivers, and how, so drivers quickly understand what's being communicated, and what's important to the lead driver and the following driver?"

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