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November 15, 2016 11:00 AM, EST

Peloton to Participate in Pilot That Targets 20% Fuel Savings in Two-Truck Platoons

Peloton Technology

Peloton Technology will participate in a three-year federal program designed to use next-generation truck platooning technology with cloud-connected powertrains to achieve 20% fuel savings for tractor-trailers in a two-truck platoon. That would nearly triple the current fuel savings documented with platooning.

“Our objective is to tap into fuel savings that can only be attained by managing the powertrain precisely for the road ahead, and for the specific configuration of the trucks,” Michael Palmer, Peloton’s director of research, said in a statement. “Cloud connectivity provides information about the road ahead, and the trucks exchange data about their estimated mass and powertrain capabilities. This helps us maintain smooth, efficient platooning through grades and rolling hills.”

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The new controls eventually could be commercialized at low additional cost because they would require minimal hardware changes and can be programmed into electronic control units that are already on the trucks, Mountain View, California-based Peloton said.

The effort is part of the Next-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Autonomous On-Road Vehicles, or Nextcar, program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program, Peloton said.

The tech firm said it will contribute its current platooning system — slated to be on the market in 2017 — and higher-automation platooning technology under development. Cummins will add advanced powertrain solutions. ZF TRW will provide steering controls. Peterbilt Motors Co. will provide a model 579 truck for the testing.

Also, Purdue University, the University of Arizona and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are involved in the effort, Peloton said.

Peloton’s platooning system creates a wireless link between the automated throttle and brake control systems on multiple trucks to synchronize their speeds and maintain a safe following distance, even in the event of a sudden stop, the company said. The 7% baseline fuel savings from the Peloton system has been validated through independent SAE Type II fuel-economy testing conducted by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and NREL.