DB Schenker’s trial reveals great potential for platooning

DB Schenker announced that the platooning pilot project run in partnership with MAN Truck & Bus and Fresenius University of Applied Sciences has been successfully completed.

As part of the research project sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), professional drivers drove two electronically linked vehicles on the Autobahn 9 between the Nuremberg and Munich branches of DB Schenker over the course of seven months. Having covered around 35,000 km, the truck drivers, who drove at a distance of only 15 m to 21 m, praised the driving comfort and the general sense of safety.

The term “platooning” refers to a system that vehicles use on the road in which at least two trucks drive in a tight convoy on a motorway, supported by technical driving assistance and control systems. All vehicles driving in the platoon are electronically linked to each other. The truck in front sets the speed and direction, and the others follow.

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) contributed funding of approximately €1.86m to the research project. The project partners DB Schenker, MAN Truck & Bus and the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences presented the results at the Ministry. According to the project partners, the use of truck platoons could ensure more efficient use of space on motorways, less congestion and increased road safety.

The platooning system installed in the MAN trucks operated smoothly 98% of the time. Active interventions by the driver were necessary only once every 2,000 km. In addition, the pilot project demonstrated a 3% to 4% reduction in fuel consumption. “Platooning is an important step for us on the way to automation,” said Joachim Drees, Chairman of the Management Board of MAN Truck & Bus SE.

Scientists from the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences investigated the psychosocial and neurophysiological effects on the drivers and confirm that drivers feel safe.

Professor Sabine Hammer from the Institute for the Science of Complex Systems (IKS) said, “Due to the fast response times of the system, drivers would now prefer a distance of 10 m to 15 m”.

The project partners are convinced that the potential of truck platooning can be further increased by future developments. In addition, new digital business models in logistics are conceivable.

Source: DB Schenker