The European Truck Platooning Challenge has been organised by the Dutch ministry for infrastructure and environment. The goal of the event is demonstrating the benefits of autonomous platooning in terms of economy and traffic safety and to speed market entry. In addition, the organisers aim at establishing the legal basis for this type of driving in a uniform manner across Europe.
DAF Trucks sent its platoon from Westerloo (Belgium) to Rotterdam. At the same time, comparable groups of trucks Scania and MAN (both subsidiaries of Volkswagen) and Daimler started in Germany; in Sweden a platoon from Volvo trucks set out from Gothenburg. While most vendors did not publish details as to the underlying V2X equipment, DAF trucks revealed that they are using the EcoTwin technology developed in a joint effort by DAF, TNO, Ricardo and NXP. EcoTwin’s central building block is the RoadLink platform from NXP. Based on the wireless communications standard IEEE 802.11p and NXP’s radar technology, the platform enables real-time data exchange between the trucks forming the platoon, including automated synchronized braking under the control of the lead vehicle. The low dead time of the RoadLink platform allows for extremely short distances between the trucks and synchronized driving of the platoon. The distance between the vehicles is only 0.5 seconds which at a speed of 80 kmph translates into a distance of about 10 meters. The reaction time of a truck within the platoon is 25 times shorter than the human reaction time of about 1 second.
The RoadLink system is integrated into the rear-view mirrors of the trucks. The design with four redundant communications channels enables a very reliable data link between all participating vehicles. In addition to automated driving commands, the system also offers bi-directional video and audio communications in real-time. Through the audio channels, drivers can communicate with each other without the need to use public cell phone services. In addition, the lead