Autonomous TruckingNews

Volvo Trucks and FedEx demo platooning in North Carolina

 A convoy of platooning trucks at the Volvo/FedEx demonstration Wednesday morning. ( Photo: FreightWaves )
A convoy of platooning trucks at the Volvo/FedEx demonstration Wednesday morning. ( Photo: FreightWaves )

Volvo Trucks North America partnered with FedEx and the North Carolina Turnpike Authority to showcase its advanced driver assistance system technology in a public on-highway platooning demonstration Wednesday.

Volvo has been working with both companies to expand operations using its Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control on N.C. 540 for several months, but the public showcase was the first of its kind in the United States.

CACC is a wireless vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology. It is intended to help reduce braking reaction time, allowing vehicles to follow closer together and automatically match their speed and braking, according to a Volvo media release.

“Volvo’s V2V technology is based on Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC), which has proven its capability to perform well in the V2V environment,” Keith Brandis, Volvo Trucks North America vice president for product planning, said. “Dedicated bandwidth within the 5.9GHz spectrum is critical for the successful deployment of V2V application, like truck platooning.” 

The technology being tested is intended to aid professional drivers, not replace them, according to the release.

Three professional drivers worked with Volvo VNL tractors pulling double 28-foot trailers during Wednesday’s platoon. The trucks used CACC to remain in constant communication while traveling at speeds up to 62 mph, keeping a time gap of 1.5 seconds in real traffic. Staged and unplanned vehicle cut-ins demonstrated how the technology handles common traffic situations.

Volvo Trucks North America Acting President Per Carlsson said Volvo supports platooning because it makes drivers safer and operations more efficient, but the exact timeline for real-world implementation is unclear.

“We continue preparing for deployment of trucks with greater vehicle-to-vehicle communication capabilities that support higher levels of ADAS,” Carlsson said. “We know these technologies will be part of our future, but exact timing depends on many things, namely regulations, infrastructure, safety standards, and market demand.”

Closer following allows for greater fuel efficiency due to reduced drag and helps minimize traffic congestion. Drag can account for up to 25 percent of a truck’s fuel consumption, according to the release.

 Increased fuel efficiency is one of the major reasons FedEx decided to partner with Volvo in this research.

“FedEx was built on innovation and it continues to be an integral part of the FedEx culture and business strategy,” said Gloria Boyland, corporate vice president, operations and service support for FedEx. “We are pleased to collaborate with Volvo Trucks and the North Carolina Turnpike Authority to learn more about how platooning technology can benefit our team members while improving fuel efficiency for our fleet.”

Volvo and FedEx both plan to continue developing this advanced technology on N.C. 540 for the foreseeable future in order to study the benefits of platooning and allow participants to adapt to technological and regulatory developments affecting the practice.

Right now, only a handful of states allow truck platooning on their roadways.

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Ashley Coker, Staff Writer

Ashley is interested in the opportunities and issues that arise at the intersection of law and technology. She is the primary contributor to the news site content. She studied journalism at Middle Tennessee State University and worked as an editor and reporter at two daily newspapers before joining FreightWaves. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.

One Comment

  1. A quick history of the linking of Class 8 Tractor Trailers, would include Consolidated Freight, best known by the large red and green CF on the white COE mostly,day cab White Freightliners.
    Mid 70’s fuel spikes and Radio Shack (yep, home of HAM radios, CB radios for the masses, and the womb of every early home made PC) A Texas innovator reasoned that linking up American Road trains, tractors pulling 3 or more 45′ trailer, could save on the drag of driving a box (COE) into the wind, by linking them with a simple low RF signals. Ya see in Texas it wasn’t uncommon to see,6 and even 8 trailers.
    They reconned that a very low out put device on the rear trailer, could set off a loud buzzer in the following cab, when it got closer then 6′.
    Yep! SIX FEET!
    Ya see drafting only happens when COEs, are within 10 feet, bumper to ICC bar.
    Running across Texas at 85MPH, became common place. Until the Federal 55MPG SPEED LIMIT were inishuated.
    It simply relided on the driver coming off the fuel, and hitting the break ASAP.
    The only complaints came from car driver’s who wanted to exit highways. Only to encounter 10 CF Tractors, pulling 40 to 60, 45′ trailers. A litteral wall of transportation blocking exits.
    Ya see, if the car driver tried to get in between 2 trucks,say 1/2 way in the pack then every CF’s truck buzzer would sound, breaking the drafting train.
    Not a Hugh deal untill CF started dropping "Fuel Saver,Bonus" Checks.
    That along with the 55 MPH enforcement, caused drive’s to disconnect the buzzers, or clip the low frequentcy transponders.
    Driving 55 across the larger States proved dealy for a lot of drivers, trying to make ends meet after the deregulation of the Trucking industry.
    I remember reading about an accident in the 80’s of a few old CF trucks on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, using/testing the old system.
    These trucks didn’t even have front axle breaking, and the 2 that did, had there’s disabled. To late, the company realised that Texas. is a much flater state. Then!
    If memory serves me right, an America Van Lines,O.O., and a Schneider driver we’re killed.
    When the CF drivers, all hit the breaks, but failed to relay the stoppage of traffic,by CB radio to the other truckers. Who were running in the makeshift convoy.
    The CF’s drivers, were all fired. The company claimed NO knowledge of the LFTs or it’s use, by company drivers.
    35 drivers were finded for following to close for conditions. Conditions being a clear and dry summer afternoon.
    This is just another step towards taking drivers out of seats, faster. Every accident will be the driver’s fault, no matter if it is or not. The Techs will say that the faster we remove the problem of (human error), the sooner freight will arrive in a safer manner.
    The only thing is, that currently no one has figured out how to get the units, from the highway parking areas, to the wearhouses, without a local driver.
    Why is this DANGEROUS?
    Local drivers aren’t under DOT rules. Their driving less then 90 air miles from their starting location. Because their local drivers, even the truck’s E logs won’t work. When out of hours, the companies will slipseat a driver into a truck that’s coming off it’s 10 hour break.
    FUTURE? 1 Driver working around the clock, with 15 minute breaks, all the time.ANY OFFICE WORKER OR CONGRESSMAN, will tell you THAT’S AN EASY JOB, AND WELL PAID TOO!
    So, a future that you want?
    Why here in the US? Auto breaking, I’m fine with. It’s the AI driving, that troubles me.
    I recently saw a field round bailed with an AI tractor harvester. GPS navagated through the fields. The owner said he saved the wages of a 20 person crew, by running 24/7. He was leaving on a 12′ round bailed with a Red Fox, and 6 dead pups crushed by the bailer.
    The farm manager said, Well, that’s part of farming in the New World.
    A reporter who’s father had worked the farm years before, said yeah farming at 60 MPH, because a satelight says the fields are clear, doesn’t mean that they really are! After all their only foxes, that keep the rodent population down!