MAN Truck & Bus and Hochschule Fresenius University of applied sciences along with a leading logistics partner, DB Schenker, together sent two digitally networked trucks into practical use. The truck ‘platoon’ was set off from DB Schenker’s Neufahrn office in Munich. The pilot project is getting a funding of 2 million euros(Rs 15 crore) from the federal government of Germany.
During the launch, Germany’s federal transportation minister, Andreas Scheuer said, “The project marks the start of the automated and networked future of road haulage.”
Platooning is a system that vehicles use on the road, in which, at least two trucks drive in a tight convoy on a freeway, supported by technical driving assistance and control systems. All of the vehicles in the platoon are linked to each other by an electronic 'drawbar' that uses vehicle-to-vehicle communication. The truck in front sets the speed and direction, and the others follow.
Currently, the tests have begun on the 145km A9 route in Germany. The team plans to conduct the test without any load till August. Dr Sabina Jeschke, DB board member for digitalisation and technology said, “With the platooning project, we are further expanding our pioneering role in the field of autonomous and networked driving.”
Incorporating experiences for an integrated logistics chain
According to Joachim Drees, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus, this project is supposed to give MAN a leading role in the automation and digitisation of commercial vehicles.
The platooning technology for logistics use will be further optimised, for instance, with regard to system safety, fuel consumption, and better use of space on freeways. The project partners also hope to gain insights into the social acceptance of the networked driving style, as well as into transport policy and infrastructural prerequisites.
Hochschule Fresenius University is going to examine the psychosocial and neurophysiological effects of the new technology on the drivers in the platoon project.