Successful Florida test bolsters platooning’s use case

Trucks equipped with Peloton Technology's platooning technology drove over 1,000 miles in Florida in December, following a successful test in Michigan earlier in December.

Trucks equipped with Peloton Technology's platooning technology drove over 1,000 miles in Florida in December, following a successful test in Michigan earlier in December.

The State of Florida’s Driver Assistive Truck Platooning Pilot Project and Peloton Technology’s Volvo VNL670 Class 8 trucks have successfully logged more than 1,000 miles in platoon testing in the state, according to reports. The demonstration test was conducted in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise.

Peloton provided the advanced driver-assistance systems to link the Volvo models. The Class 8 trucks traveled 65 feet apart, similar to a demonstration that Peloton made along Interstate 96 in Lansing, MI.

While an earlier presentation revealed how FDOT started planning a platooning test back in 2016, the project finally started moving after passage of Florida House Bill 7027 that mandates “The Department of Transportation, in consultation with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, shall study the use and safe operation of driver-assistive truck platooning technology, as defined in s.316.003, Florida Statutes, for the purpose of developing a pilot project to test vehicles that are equipped to operate using driver-assistive truck platooning technology.”

Peloton’s system requires drivers of each truck to be in full control of steering and remain actively engaged in driving. The system links the active safety systems of class 8 trucks, enabling pairs of trucks to coordinate their speeds and maintain a safe, aerodynamic following distance.

Peloton co-founder Steve Boyd viewed the project as successful. “We want to thank the governor, legislature and state agencies for their leadership in allowing for the demonstration and advancement of innovative technologies that can bring enhanced safety, efficiency and mobility to both Florida and the nation.”

The environmental and economic benefits needed for improved mobility made vehicle platooning more competitive, according to FDOT’s assistant secretary of strategic development, Tom Byron. “We welcome this and other opportunities to test connected vehicle systems and other advanced transportation concepts that will improve roadway safety and bring new economic opportunities to the region.”

Nine states have confirmed participation, but Michigan and Florida have completed demonstrations. The other states yet to report any platooning demonstrations are Arkansas, Nevada, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.

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