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Tests reveal potential of truck ‘platooning’ in Germany

A pilot project on truck platooning has been successfully completed by DB Schenker, MAN Truck & Bus and Fresenius University of Applied Sciences in Germany.

‘Platooning’ is when two or more trucks drive in a tight convoy on a motorway, benefiting from reduced air drag. All vehicles driving in the platoon are electronically linked to each other

Operating electronically linked trucks on German motorways is safe, technically reliable and easily applicable in the routine of a logistics company.

These are the key results of the world’s first field test with truck platoons in real logistics operations, part of a research project sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI).

Professional drivers drove two electronically linked vehicles on the Autobahn 9 between the Nuremberg and Munich branches of the logistics company DB Schenker over the course of seven months.

Having covered some 35,000 test kilometres, the truck drivers, who drove at a distance of only 15 to 21 meters, praised the driving comfort and the general sense of safety. The field test also demonstrated savings in fuel consumption.

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) contributed funding of approx. 1.86 million euros to the research project.

The project partners DB Schenker, MAN Truck & Bus and the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences presented the results at the Ministry.

According to the project partners, the use of truck platoons could ensure more efficient use of space on motorways, less congestion and increased road safety.

Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure said, “The mobility of the future will be automated and networked. Of course, this is also true for logistics.

“I therefore fully support the industry in bringing technologies such as platooning to market maturity.”

According to DB Schenker’s research, platooning can be used extensively in the logistics network.

Alexander Doll, Member of the Management Board for Finance, Freight Transport and Logistics at Deutsche Bahn AG said, “We have analyzed our European transport network and it is safe to say that around 40% of the kilometres travelled could be carried out in platoons.”

For this, however, further tests and ensuring the regulatory framework would be necessary.

The platooning system installed in the MAN trucks operated smoothly 98% of the time.

Active interventions by the driver were necessary only once every 2,000 kilometres, which is much less than expected.
In addition, the pilot project demonstrated a 3 to 4 percent reduction in fuel consumption.

Picture: The participants of the platooning-project presented the research results at the final event at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) in Berlin (l.t.r.): Joachim Drees, MAN Truck & Bus, Alexander Doll, Deutsche Bahn, Dr. Tobias Miethaner, Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Prof. Dr. Sabine Hammer and Prof. Dr. Christian Haas, both Hochschule Fresenius.

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