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Peloton set to debut truck platoons later this year

 Research suggests that trucks running in platoons can save between 4% and 10% in fuel depending on their position in the platoon. ( Photo: Peloton )
Research suggests that trucks running in platoons can save between 4% and 10% in fuel depending on their position in the platoon. ( Photo: Peloton )

Ready or not, truck platooning is inching closer to reality. And it offers a real chance at fuel savings.

Autonomous vehicles get all the headlines. But despite the buzz, they are at least several years away at the earliest, and perhaps even 20 or more years away from becoming commonplace on American roadways. Platoons, though, are a completely different story.

What is platooning and why are we getting so close to real-world application? Platooning reduces aerodynamic drag by closely grouping tractor-trailers together via electronic coupling. The vehicles travel at a relatively close distance to minimize drag. The first vehicle serves as the leader with each successive truck in the platoon connected and controlled autonomously by the lead truck. A driver in a trailing vehicle could pull his vehicle out of the platoon at any time and all remaining vehicles would automatically close the gap between vehicles.

Platoons have a chance to significantly cut into U.S. diesel fuel use. According to research conducted by researchers with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), U.S. trucking contributed 7.5% of total U.S. GHG emissions in 2013 and consumed 64.9% of all energy in the freight sector.


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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and fleetowner.com. Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.
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