Mercedes-Benz Actros Lkw nutzen das System Highway Pilot Connect zur vernetzten Fahrt im Verbund (Truck Platoon)

Three autonomous and connected Mercedes-Benz Actros trucks are currently making their way from the Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The drive is a show of support for the European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016.

In simple terms, truck platooning refers to a convoy of trucks all driving closely together in a slip-stream formation. With the truck in front breaking through the air, tailing trucks dock in a slip-stream position with lesser aerodynamic resistance. Trucks behind the leader therefore require less power to travel at the same speed, reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in the process.

The European Truck Platooning Challenge was introduced by the Dutch government to create awareness for the environmental and social benefits of truck platooning. It invites all manufacturers to take up the challenge and travel from major European cities to Rotterdam. Here, Daimler is taking the opportunity to not only show its support, but to showcase its driverless and vehicle connectivity tech.

The key to Mercedes-Benz’s impressive platooning capabilities here is courtesy of its Highway Pilot Connect system. Using WiFi as a means to transmit data between vehicles, the feature essentially allows a driver to “dock” his truck in position behind or ahead of another truck, and then continually communicate with surrounding vehicles to maximise the platooning effect.

Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, im Vorstand der Daimler AG verantwortlich für Daimler Trucks und Daimler Buses, und Sven Ennerst, Leiter Truck Engineering & Global Procurement Daimler Trucks, verabschieden die Fahrer des ersten vernetzten Mercedes-Benz Actros Lkw-Verbunds vor ihrer Fahrt nach Rotterdam.

Explaining this, Mercedes-Benz says that while a human at the wheel of a truck would be safer staying at least 50 metres behind another vehicle, its Highway Pilot Connect system can safely maintain 15-metre gaps ahead and behind it. This enormously reduces aerodynamic drag, which extends to greater fuel saving benefits and lower CO2 emissions. It also results in a more efficient use of road space.

The system is also said to make road traffic much safer. While humans have a reaction time of 1.4 seconds, Highway Pilot Connect can transmit braking and other signals to surrounding vehicles in less than 0.1 seconds. Nevertheless, drivers will always have the power to resume control over the trucks at any point.

“Driving in a convoy is one of numerous examples to raise the performance of goods transport extensively with connected trucks. Today, already 365 000 commercial vehicles of Daimler are connected. We are consequently pushing this development”, said Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Daimler board of management, Daimler Trucks & Daimler Buses.

The three trucks which began their journey in Stuttgart will arrive at the port of Rotterdam on April 6. They will drive though Heilbronn (A81) on highways A61 and A67 across the federal states Baden-Württemberg, Rheineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia towards Venlo for passing the border to the Netherlands.