Home Strategy Telstra joins industry initiative to explore ‘truck platooning’ benefits

Telstra joins industry initiative to explore ‘truck platooning’ benefits

Telstra is partnering with US-based automated and connected vehicle technology company Peloton Technology and the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI)  to explore the safety and fuel efficiency benefits of truck platooning for Australia.

The initiative, by Peloton Technology and ADVI, involves Telstra, supported by the Western Australian Road Transport Association and the WA government, to explore the benefits of truck platooning – the grouping of vehicles into platoons, comprises a number of trucks, closely following one after the other, and equipped with state-of-the-art driving support systems.

As part of the initial exploration of opportunities for truck platooning, the Western Australian government has approved testing and fleet trials in the state.

ADVI, a co-operative effort of government, industry, and academia, is exploring the impacts and requirements of vehicle automation with a goal of realising the full economic, social and environmental benefits of the technology in the trucking industry and other transportation sectors.

Rita Excell, executive director of the ADVI Centre of Excellence, says ADVI recognises first-generation driver-assistive truck platooning as a promising technology for near-term deployment, and has identified Peloton as a key collaborator in investigating use of these systems in Australia.

“Australia’s driving conditions and the long distances of our truck routes between urban centres make truck platooning a particularly promising technology to enhance the industry,” Excell says.

“In addition, truck platooning, mixed with higher levels of automation, can bring greater safety, efficiency and productivity to fleets operating on Australia’s extensive network of private roads. We look forward to holding joint discussions involving Peloton and Australian trucking fleets to identify specific opportunities to apply this technology going forward.”

“It is great to see Australia join the growing list of markets worldwide that are adopting emerging technologies that enhance vehicle safety and efficiency,” says Peloton chief executive Joshua Switkes.

“ADVI and the other partners coming together provide Peloton with a great gateway to work with the key Australian industry, fleet and government partners needed for us (to) enter this important new market.”

Agnes Sheehan, director, Enterprise Mobility Global Enterprise & Services at Telstra, says the company welcomes the opportunity, with ADVI, to explore the adaption of truck platooning technology in Australia, in collaboration with key stakeholders within the transport and logistics industry.

“Telstra’s breadth and depth of our 4G and future 5G networks will underpin Peloton Technology’s systems in Australia, providing the secure exchange of information to Peloton’s centrally managed network operations centre. This will provide fuel savings, safety and efficiency gains in supply chain logistics.

“As part of our continued work in future transport solutions, collaboration with fleet operators, regulators and technology vendors is important to ensure there is a holistic approach to introducing this technology and ensuring all stakeholders views are represented. Transformational innovation within the transport sector is happening at a rapid pace and will continue to evolve, it’s working collaboratively which will enable acceptance and adaption within this sector.”

Peloton’s driver-assistive truck platooning system will initially roll out to commercial fleets in the US in 2017. Building on industry-proven active safety systems, sensors, and advanced vehicle communications, Peloton says its system allows two trucks to save an average of 7.5% in fuel by operating safely in an aerodynamic platoon.

In platooning mode, acceleration and braking of the rear truck are automated to match the front truck via a secure and encrypted vehicle-to-vehicle wireless link, with both drivers retaining full steering control. Engineered in collaboration with Peloton’s professional driving team, the system is equipped with in-cab truck-to-truck video that increases drivers’ awareness of the road, a clear driver interface for platooning operations, and contextual over-the-horizon alerts.

Peloton’s Switkes says the company has also developed a cloud-based network operations centre that delivers rich data to fleets and provides continuous safety supervision of vehicles equipped with its platooning system, whether operating in platoon or individually.

Based on real-time GPS and system health, and road environment data, the NOC authorises all platooning activity to ensure that platooning occurs only on appropriate roads under suitable traffic and weather conditions.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).