The trucking industry is about to be flipped upside down with the introduction of autonomous technology. Truckers rack up the most miles driving around the country, and systems that can complete the majority of the work on the highway will help companies save millions. While some companies are working on autonomous trucks that can follow one another in a conga line, Peloton Technology has a new take on how self-driving technology can change truck driving in the future.
One Human Driver Is In Control
At the Automated Vehicle Symposium 2019 in Orlando, Peloton Technology unveiled its new smart assistive driving tech that allows one human operator to control multiple trucks simultaneously. The technology fits into the Level 4 branch of autonomous technology and uses a host of systems to give on operator full control.
“We’ve taken a different approach to commercial introduction of automation in class 8 vehicles,” said Peloton Technology CEO, Josh Switkes. “We see the drivers as the world’s best sensors, and we are leveraging this to enable today’s drivers to be more productive through automated following platoons.”
As far as tech systems that Peloton Technology sees being used on semi-trucks, there’s vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, radar-based active braking systems, and vehicle control algorithms. The California-based company also has its own proprietary technology that links pairs of trucks to one another. This improves a variety of things, including safety, aerodynamics, and fuel economy.
How Does The Technology Work?
While it may sound like Peloton Technology can endlessly link semi trucks to one another, that isn’t the case. A human driver is in both trucks, but the one in the lead vehicle handles all of the driving, while the human operator in the follow truck is still in control of steering. But the systems control the powertrain and brakes to ensure the following distance is precise enough for fuel economy’s sake.
“With V2V communication, data from the lead driver’s actions are transmitted to the follow truck, so it knows whenever the lead driver adjusts the throttle, brakes, or maneuvers the steering wheel,” Switkes told Digital Trends. “Using that information, along with data gathered from its own suite of production-grade sensors, the follow truck can safely follow, forming a single-driver platoon.”
Getting the entire trucking industry to move to fully-autonomous trucks at once will be impossible. So Peloton Technology’s idea of linking two semis together that are playing “follow the leader” is a great way to slowly bring the technology to the market. And there’s no better way to start to showcase technology than by testing.
“L4 Automated Following is in testing today,” said Switkes. “We don’t have a product launch date to share yet because we are focused on achieving the same level of safety with Automated Following, as we have with PlatoonPro.”
Of course, there are always regulatory hurdles to jump through in the future, but Peloton Technology claims it’s working with trucking associations and lawmakers to make sure the technology can be utilized for commercial use down the road.