NXP Drives Truck Platooning

November 10, 2016 // By Junko Yoshida
NXP Semiconductors believes there’s no better place than truck “platooning” to demonstrate the merits of autonomous driving. The company sees the digital caravans as a way to showcase both recent advances in autonomous technology and real-world application of it.

At Electronica this week, NXP and its partners demonstrated truck platooning live on Munich roads.

Adaptive cruise control, vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems and enhanced radar are some of the essential building blocks that allow truck platooning.

Platooning lets two or more trucks electronically couple so that accelerating and braking by the lead truck is relayed instantaneously to following trucks, guiding their actions. The results are closer following distances between trucks, with significant increases in fuel efficiency and safety.

Lars Reger, chief technology officer of NXP’s automotive business unit, told EE Times that at the European Truck Platooning Challenge held earlier this year, NXP, DAF Trucks, TNO and Ricardo achieved a breakthrough, platooning trucks only 0.5 seconds apart.

That translates in trucks platooning at 80 km per hour, maintaining a separation of 11 meters.

In essence, the platoon moves like one long unit, all the trucks wirelessly linked. The use of a V2V communication system and high-performance cameras allows the last truck to see the first truck’s windshield camera view, while the first truck can look behind the “caboose.”

Even when cars happen to cut into the platoon, enhanced radar on the trucks can detect such road interference "adjusting the platoon seamlessly,” according to NXP.

 

The V2V linking of active safety systems and synchronized braking promotes increased safety among close-following trucks. But fuel economy is another important element of platooning.

Running trucks so close together has proven to affect fuel economy significantly. Consideration the turbulence faced by each truck in a five-truck platoon, the fuel savings compute to two percent for the lead truck, 11 percent in the middle, and 9 percent for the last two trucks, under real world conditions, Reger explained.

According to NXP, a consortium consisting of NXP, DAF Trucks, TNO and Ricardo, is now seeking to cut the minimum distance between trucks to 7 meters at 80 km per hour in 2017.

NXP explained, “In this new