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Truck Platooning Testing

 
Photo of two tractor trailer trucks driving in close proximity.

NREL conducted track testing of platooned tractors with 53-ft trailers at the 8.5-mile Uvalde track in San Antonio, Texas.
Photo courtesy of Peloton

NREL's fleet test and evaluation team assesses the fuel savings potential of semi-automated truck platooning of line-haul sleeper cabs with modern aerodynamics. Platooning reduces aerodynamic drag by grouping vehicles together and safely decreasing the distance between them via electronic coupling, which allows multiple vehicles to accelerate or brake simultaneously.

Track Testing of Platooned Tractor-Trailer Trucks

In 2014, the team conducted track testing of three SmartWay tractorstwo platooned tractors and one control tractorat varying steady-state speeds, following distances, and gross vehicle weights. While platooning improved fuel economy at all speeds, travel at 55 mph resulted in the best overall miles per gallon. The lead truck demonstrated fuel savings up to 5.3% while the trailing truck saved up to 9.7%.

A number of conditions impact the savings attainable, including ambient temperature, distance between lead and trailing truck, and payload weight. Future studies may look at ways to optimize system fuel efficiency and emissions reductions.

Publications

The following documents provide more information about NREL's truck platooning evaluations.