Truck Platooning Testing
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.
The following documents provide more information about NREL's truck platooning evaluations.
- Potentials for Platooning in U.S. Highway Freight Transport
- Class 8 Tractor Trailer Platooning: Effects, Impacts, and Improvements
- Assessing the Fuel-Saving Potential of Semi-automated Truck Platooning
- Summary of NREL's Recent Class 8 Tractor Trailer Platooning Testing
- Effect of Platooning on Fuel Consumption of Class 8 Vehicles over a Range of Speeds, Following Distances, and Mass
- Reducing Fuel Consumption through Semi-automated Platooning with Class 8 Tractor Trailer Combinations