Volvo Trucks_platooning_optVolvo Trucks and the University of California, Berkeley have completed a partially automated truck platooning demonstration, hauling three containers on the interstate highway from the port of Los Angeles.

Platooning reduces aerodynamic drag, fuel consumption and emissions by grouping trucks closely together along a given highway route. Reducing the distance between vehicles also allows for greater highway utilisation and can help ease traffic congestion.

Three Volvo VNL 670 model tractors hauled the cargo containers at speeds of 88kph while keeping 15 metres apart, much closer than usual for on-highway tractors. Staged and unplanned vehicle cut-ins demonstrated that the technology could handle common traffic situations.

“Vehicle-to-vehicle communication is pivotal for platooning systems; it helps reduce the reaction time for braking and enables vehicles to follow closer,” said Magnus Koeck, Volvo Trucks’ vice-president of marketing and brand management.

The demonstration used the Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control (CACC) technology developed by the truckmaker and the university’s Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH) program.

It is sponsored by the US Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration Advanced Research Program and Caltrans.

CACC technology is an enhancement to the current adaptive cruise control technology that enables closer and more accurate control of the gap between trucks with increased safety.

It is meant to serve as an aid, rather than a replacement, for skilled professional truck drivers.

Earlier this year, rival Swedish truckmaker Scania began work on a three-year truck platooning trial in Singapore with Toyota.