Truck platooning — road freight vehicles travelling in a tight convoy, co-ordinated by vehicle-to-vehicle communications — is set to come to Australia, with the West Australian government backing fleet trials in the state.
The Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI), US company Peloton Technology, which develops connected vehicle technology, have partnered to examine the potential efficiency and safety benefits the technology could offer the Australian road freight industry.
ADVI was instrumental in the first southern hemisphere tests of autonomous vehicles on public roads, which were staged last year in South Australia.
The WA initiative is supported by Telstra and the Western Australian Road Transport Association as well as the WA government.
Peloton’s platooning system, due for commercial launch next year, supports two-truck convoys, using V2V communications for braking and acceleration. The system, which still involves drivers in both vehicles, cuts the trucks’ fuel usage by an average of 7.5 per cent, according to the company.
The company also offers a “cloud-based Network Operations Centre” (NOC) that allows companies to monitor their fleet and collect and analyse data
Telstra said its 4G network, and in the future its 5G network, will help underpin the NOC’s operation in Australia.
Telstra and Australian company Cohda Wireless recently conducted a trial of ‘vehicle to infrastructure’ (V2I) communications using the telco’s 4G network.
“While there has been a lot of focus around future transport technology, there has not been much work done to date in Australia on supporting intelligent transport systems via existing 4G mobile networks,” Telstra’s director of technology, Andrew Scott, said after the trial.
Telstra is planning further tests, including V2V and ‘vehicle-to-vulnerable tests’, which involves the response of connected vehicles to pedestrians and cyclists.