American Center for Mobility to study ‘truck platooning’

YPSILANTI TWP. — The American Center for Mobility (ACM) announced that it had  gathered a team of organizations representing defense, academia and the public sector to further research and test automated convoy platooning in a two-year study that will feature both military and commercial grade trucks.

The study aims to autonomously control an entire fleet of vehicles – throttle, brake and steering – while optimizing fuel efficiency and safety. A study of this proposed scope has not been attempted before; if completed successfully, it will be the first of its kind in the nation.

Participating organizations include Auburn University, the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the Michigan Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the United States Army and Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).

“This is an unprecedented study with extensive implications as the project touches on many aspects of the CAV ecosystem,” said Jeff Rupp, chief technical officer for ACM. “Automated truck platooning promises increased fuel efficiency, improved safety and greater throughput on America’s roads. This project is an important step to commercializing and safely deploying the technology.”

ACM officials say industry experts predict it will take seven to 10 years for autonomously controlled trucks to be safely deployed. Working collaboratively, the group has identified and pooled resources to address deficiencies in prior platooning work studies that will contribute to shortening that window, while also realizing additional opportunities for testing in controlled environments and on public roads.

“Unmanned driving has the potential to be a breakthrough capability that can enhance our mission efficiency many times over, and the potential that advancing this work at ACM brings is extraordinary,” says Bernie Theisen of TARDEC’s ground vehicle robotics unit. “But what we’re most excited and passionate about are the safety advances we can make here and with our other partners.”

ACM will be used to test increased reliability of multi-truck convoys traveling at highway speeds on elevated on-ramps, bridges, overpasses and tunnels in mixed vehicle traffic scenarios.

“This is another example of the collaboration that makes Michigan a leader in deploying technology for advanced mobility,” said Kirk Steudle, Michigan Department of Transportation director and interim CEO at the American Center for Mobility. “Truck platooning will pay safety and environmental benefits that we can only begin to imagine.”

“Truck platooning technology has the potential to make our streets safer and increase efficiency in the transportation industry,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

The participating organizations say they plan to conclude the study with a high-speed truck convoy demonstration staged at ACM to showcase the achievements during the two-year project.

ACM is a non-profit testing, education and product development facility for future mobility, designed to enable safe validation and self-certification of connected and automated vehicle technology and future mobility, and to accelerate the development of voluntary standards. ACM is one of 10 U.S. DOT designated Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds in the U.S. To learn more about ACM, visit www.acmwillowrun.org.

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