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Platooning: It’s Not Your Grandad’s Convoy!

Popular Misconceptions

There are quite a few misconceptions about the 21rst century concept of “platooning”, especially as it applies to today’s heavy trucking industry. Just read some of the negative comments posted at this informative platooning article at trucking is a tendency for the less informed general public to jump to the conclusion that “platooning” is just another term for  hazardous, road hogging, 1970’s style “convoys”. These infamous truck trains were lead by rebellious outlaw truckers with dubious handles like “Rubber Duck”. This is the cultural residue left in the wake of the popular 1978 movie “Convoy”. Check out the video here for an example of what platooning is not.


A Platoon of Two Will Do

Old Rubber Duck’s antiquated “Great big convoy, rocking across the USA” has more in common with an old west wagon train than it does with modern platooning techniques.There is absolutely no need to string a long line of trucks together.

  • Firstly, platooning pays off in fuel savings with just two trucks. According to Peloton Technology, an industry leader in the field, the lead truck can expect a 4.5% savings in fuel, with the greater benefit of 7% savings bestowed on the truck behind. That's over 10% combined savings for two trucks in the same fleet.
  • Secondly, old Rubber Duck’s convoy relied on the awareness and (perhaps questionable) reflexes of its many human drivers only. Modern platooning relies on two human drivers and two synchronized ADAS, or Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. That combines 4 human eyes and  approximately 800 ADAS sensors in the two trucks , all cooperating together for enhanced safety and maximum fuel efficiency.

State of the Art Platooning

This video presentation at Peloton’s website shows how modern platooning works between two random in operators who happen to be heading the same way. It addresses a common objection, demonstrating how these two ADAS assisted drivers handle platoon-breakers. Disruptive drivers cutting into the space between the pair are aptly dubbed “challengers”. As the video shows, this all too common hazard has been anticipated and overcome. We just had one question.

 After checking out the video we had to wonder if the guy in the back might have been wiser to make the fuel stop with the leader, considering that whopping 7% he was saving?

On the other hand, every trucker knows that when it’s time to get on home, priorities might change a bit.

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