Fuel saving truck convoying to be tested in UAE
Platooning, or convoying of commercial vehicles, primarily trucks, is to be tested in the UAE, according to Kivanç Arman, the automotive aftermarket regional director for the Middle East and Turkey at Robert Bosch Middle East.
Speaking to The National, Arman said the UAE was a prime market in which to test the concept.
“The way platooning works is by electronically connecting multiple trucks along a virtual longitudinal axis. The lead vehicle is "in charge", and all the following trucks accelerate, brake and turn in sync with it,” he explains.
“The UAE is a major logistics hub with a lot of freeways that would be well suited for truck platooning. Especially the road between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and the freight corridor connecting Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai World Central and Dubai International Airport, have great potential for implementing automation technologies across truck fleets,” he added.
With a considerable volume of freight moved by truck in the GCC, more than 1 million trucks are currently in operation across the region, and with this number increasing by 5 to 9 per cent every year, automation of commercial vehicles to reduce emissions is a major goal.
“Driver-free trucks will soon become an economic imperative for motor carriers, changing the economics of shipping, according to a recent study by the management consultancy Strategy&,” says Arman.
The concept, however, is just that at present, a concept, with no real-world application, and will likely take several years to bring to fruition.
“Truck platooning is complex, and will require at least another five to 10 years to reach maturity. It requires advanced and reliable inter-vehicle connectivity to ensure that acceleration, braking and steering for each vehicle in the fleet follows that of the first truck in the convoy,” says Arman.
He says that in order for the concept to work, each individual truck will first need to be automated so that the powertrain, assistance and steering systems work in tandem. “This is a big task, but we are adding function after function to the automation process such as automated assistants for steering, turning and changing lanes,” he adds.
These components are essential for automated driving to be able to happen in a real-life environment, with human drivers in surrounding lanes, and varying weather and traffic conditions.