Photo via Port of Los Angeles Twitter

Photo via Port of Los Angeles Twitter

Private and public transportation partners conducted a partially automated truck platooning demonstration in California Wednesday at the Los Angeles Port complex and along the Interstate 110 freeway.

The Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control system on display offered a first-hand look at platooning technology in a real-world setting. Platooning technology has the potential to impact safety, transportation system capacity and emissions reductions, note demo organizers.

In the demonstration, trucks used the technology to follow in closer proximity, using forward-looking sensors and vehicle-to-vehicle communication to maintain automated speed and spacing. CACC was developed by the University of California, Berkeley Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH), in coordination with Volvo Trucks of North America.  

“Once again California is leading the nation in advanced technology,” said Malcolm Dougherty, Caltrans director. “Today we saw a demonstration of a truck technology that promises to improve California’s existing freight system by enhancing truck safety and increasing capacity on existing highways.”

The demonstration simulated real world conditions with three trucks driving 50 feet apart at 55 mph while hauling cargo containers, similar to those used at the port and at industrial centers throughout Los Angeles County. The demonstration also included vehicles cutting in front of the platooning trucks to demonstrate how the system can handle traffic.

CACC is an enhanced version of Adaptive Cruise Control, capable of closer and more accurate control of the gap and differences between trucks than conventional ACC. In addition to improving fuel economy for the platooning vehicles, CACC could also reduce congestion and increase the capacity of dedicated truck lane facilities, according to CalTrans.

“Our technology planning and traffic simulation work suggests connected vehicle and truck platooning technologies may eventually facilitate the ability to operate up to 50% more trucks on these lanes – essentially giving the capacity equivalent of a third lane of freeway in each direction,” said Mark Jensen of Cambridge Systematics, a CACC partner.

In the spring, PATH plans to test truck driver preferences among multiple gap settings on Bay Area freeways and simulate impacts on traffic and energy savings on the 710 corridor in Southern California.

“This technology will become available for use in the coming years, and when it does it should be embraced due to its numerous benefits,” said Steve Shladover, PATH representative.