“Platooning” means driving in convoy with the assistance of electronic vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) networking. This technology was used in the European Truck Platooning Challenge, which was initiated by the government of the Netherlands as part of its EU Council presidency. The platoons of the six European truck manufacturers started from their respective company headquarters and converged on the port of Rotterdam in a star formation on 6th April.
The trucks of a platoon closed up to a separation of 15 metres on the motorway. Special permission allowed them to undercut the actually required minimum separation of 50 metres. Computer programs took over the braking and separation control for this, relaying the braking signal to the following vehicles in less than one tenth of a second, whereas a human at the steering wheel would require a reaction time of 1.4 seconds. The advantages of platooning are the considerably reduced air resistance within a platoon and the resulting possibility for reducing fuel consumption, as well as the more efficient use of the road due to the reduced spacing between vehicles.
HGV manufacturer Daimler drove from the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart to the port of Rotterdam in two days with a composite of three electronically coupled Mercedes-Benz Actros. GIGATRONIK took on the conversion of vehicles for Daimler in the GIGATRONIK Integration Centre for Derivative Development and Electric Mobility (IDEE). This included the conversion of three trailers, which were among other things equipped with Wi-Fi. This networks the Mercedes-Benz trucks with the Highway Pilot Connect system for the automated triplet. Apart from this, GIGATRONIK developed special HMI applications for platooning that display important information to the driver. One app on the driver’s tablet displays a live video image of the traffic from the perspective of the driver in the first vehicle, for example. Several GIGATRONIK departments and locations were involved in successfully bringing the project to fruition.