Few people argue that self-driving vehicles aren’t on the horizon as far as future transport technologies go. But before we reach the point, there are other ways that smart assistive driving technology can be used — without humans necessarily having to be removed from the process altogether.
That’s where connected vehicle company Peloton Technology’s new tech enters the picture. Unveiled at the recent Automated Vehicle Symposium 2019 in Orlando, Peloton’s vision for the future of Level 4 automation technology allows one (human) driver to control multiple trucks at the same time.
By utilizing vehicle-to-vehicle communications and radar-based active braking systems, combined with sophisticated vehicle control algorithms, the L4 Automated Following system lets one A.I.-driven truck follow another human-driven vehicle. Doing so can not only allow one driver to transport more goods, but also leads to greater fuel economy and safety. Accelerating in one truck will cause the other to follow, while braking works the same way. All of this happens almost instantaneously.
“With V2V communication, data from the lead driver actions is transmitted to the following truck, so it knows whenever the lead driver adjusts the throttle, brakes, or maneuvers the steering wheel,” CEO Josh Switkes told Digital Trends. “Using that information, along with data gathered from its own suite of production-grade sensors, the follow truck can safely follow, forming a single-driver platoon. The sensing and computation problems are much simpler than those of independent autonomous driving because the following truck doesn’t have to look far ahead to anticipate changing conditions. Instead, it simply monitors its immediate surroundings for possible intrusions while maintaining a safe distance behind the lead truck.”
Long-term, it’s entirely possible that the trucking industry moves over to a completely self-driving system. For now, though, Peloton believes that this approach will be able to help address the major industry problem of a shortage of professional drivers. Digital Trends previously wrote about Peloton’s assistive platooning technology at CES. However, since then, it seems that the vision has continued to develop — and testing has begun.
“L4 Automated Following is in testing today,” Switkes continued. “We don’t have a product launch date to share yet because we are focused on achieving the same level of safety with Automated Following, as we have with PlatoonPro. Concurrent to our development efforts, Peloton continues to work with key trucking associations and lawmakers on the regulatory side to ensure that as the technology matures, it can be deployed in commercial operations on routes where it can make the biggest impact addressing the driver shortage.”
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