Automated vehicle platooning—often referred to as road trains, connected automated vehicles, or cooperative automated vehicles—is moving from concept to reality.
In June Volvo Trucks North American completed a demonstration of platooning technology across the North Carolina Turnpike.
The “platoon” consisted of three trained, professional truck drivers in Volvo VNL tractors, each pulling double 28-foot trailers. Through CACC, a wireless vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology, the tractors and trailers remained in constant communication. The tractors and trailers traveled at speeds of up to 62 mph while keeping a time gap of 1.5 seconds, maintaining a closer distance than what is typical for on-highway tractors. Staged and unplanned vehicle cut-ins demonstrated how the technology handles common traffic situations.
This technology can provide a variety of benefits including improved fuel economy, and increase vehicle throughput without costly roadway capacity expansions.
It can also address the chronic shortage of qualified commercial drivers and permanently reduce labor costs.
With the coming advent of automated vehicles, numerous sections of state motor vehicle codes likely will need revision if we are to take advantage of the full range of benefits offered by vehicle automation technology, explained Marc Scribner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Recently the group released its Authorizing Automated Vehicle Platooning, 2018, as a guide for state legislators.
This handbook, currently in its third annual edition, provides a comprehensive national overview of FTC statutes and regulations. It recommends specific changes for each jurisdiction that has yet to provide appropriate FTC rule exemptions for platooning vehicles.
To date, 16 U.S. jurisdictions have authorized automated vehicle platooning. In 2015, Utah became the first state to exempt from FTC rules and authorize the testing of connected vehicles, when it enacted the first law in the U.S. to attempt to address vehicle platooning. Florida followed suit in 2016. Also in 2016, Michigan enacted a comprehensive automated vehicle law that included an FTC rule exemption. In 2017, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas have enacted FTC rule exemptions allowing for commercial platooning. And in the first half of 2018, nine more jurisdictions—Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin—enacted FTC rule exemptions.
Click here to see the handbook.