Vehicle automation often stirs up feelings of unease or even fear in many people. Their minds conjure up images of lost jobs, increased crash rates, and even rogue vehicles running the streets, particularly in trucking where up to 80,000 pounds could be in the metaphorical hands of automation.
But why is it that people believe such scenarios or dramatic economic repercussions could happen given the history of automation? If there is no driver in the truck, those on the road tend to dive into a panicked state–but if there is no hand transferring one widget to another in a factory, the general public has overlooked, or even celebrated, that for decades due to excellent quality control and the transition of human labor into more skilled roles.
So what can we do to bridge this gap of automation? At Peloton, we’re looking to follow in the footsteps of factories by slowly rolling out automated features that make for a safer, more efficient drive while keeping skilled drivers front and center. Here’s how we’re doing that:
Treating safety as a first principle. One of the benefits of truck platooning is safer driving. Peloton makes sure that in achieving that goal, we’re putting safety considerations at the top of the list in everything we do. To utilize PlatoonPro, trucks need to be equipped with air disc brakes, adaptive cruise control, and a collision mitigation system; this way, Peloton ensures it is pairing trucks with an already excellent level of safety equipment.
Putting drivers in the driver’s seat for designing the platooning user experience. Peloton is serious about collaborating with the truck drivers who will use our platooning technologies, and we work closely with professional drivers at each stage of the user experience (UX) design. Making sure that drivers are comfortable with using platooning technology as a complement to their skill set is key to successful implementation.
Implementing advanced versions of proven technologies. Peloton’s direct vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, which allows two platooning trucks to accelerate and brake together as a single system, is based on the industry-standard dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) protocol. This reliable and tested connection reduces reaction time during braking events–the system doesn’t take its eyes off of the road to sneeze, text, or take a sip of coffee like a human might.
"Making sure that drivers are comfortable with using platooning technology as a complement to their skill set is key to successful implementation"
Focusing on specific use cases. The primary use case for PlatoonPro is two truck, hub-to-hub routes—from one large distribution center to another. This focus allows fleets and carriers to become familiar with platooning technology in low-risk scenarios, over routes that multiple trucks travel back and forth every day. By reducing the variables around platooning, drivers are more comfortable, and it’s easier to measure the fuel economies that platooning enables.
By enabling automation in these effective ways, platooning offers trucking a safe and efficient improvement in current operations while maintaining the skill of drivers and workers–just as factories have done for decades.