The European project ENSEMBLE has developed a communication protocol approved by all major European truck manufacturers for platooning multi-brand road convoys. Combining tests on simulators, demonstrations on tracks, and experiments in real conditions, the project explores the effect of platooning on traffic, road safety, business profitability, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Truck platooning, born in the United States, consists of a group of at least two cooperative heavy goods vehicles in a row. Unlike a conventional convoy, the lead vehicle, which is driven by a driver, transmits its GPS signal, speed, and other information to the rest of the trucks to guide them. Thus, the vehicles communicate with each other and synchronize automatically.
These road platoons have two main advantages:
• Reduced aerodynamic drag, leading to fuel savings;
• A possible reduction by five of the minimum distance – i.e. 10 to 15 meters, whereas the legislation today imposes a minimum distance of 50 meters – due to increased safety and, therefore, an optimization of the occupation of the road, hence, an expected reduction in traffic congestion.
Tests are carried out to clarify its viability on all types of vehicles, in Europe and North America.
As part of the Transport Lab, the results of the ENSEMBLE project are available for analysis. Do they confirm the benefits of platooning? Under what conditions could it be approved and what would be the next steps to take?