One driver, two trucks — Peloton aims for Level 4 platooning platform

Updated Jul 28, 2019
Peloton will join forces with Cummins, Peterbilt and ZF TRW to develop a connected powertrain to increase fuel efficiency through platooning.

Peloton Technologies, who earned an investment from Volvo in 2015, said last week during the Automated Vehicle Symposium in Orlando that it’s aiming to build out a Level 4 platooning platform that relies on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication to enable a single-driver to operate a pair of tractor-trailers.

The company did not provide a timeline for when it plans to deploy such a system, but it said the tech marks the next major milestone in Peloton’s approach to deploying automation.

“We’ve taken a different approach to commercial introduction of automation in Class 8 vehicles,” says CEO Josh Switkes. “We see the drivers as the world’s best sensors, and we are leveraging this to enable today’s drivers to be more productive through automated following platoons.”

Platooning and automated following systems work by utilizing V2V communications and radar-based systems, combined with vehicle control algorithms. Peloton’s proprietary technologies link pairs of heavy trucks for connected driving that improves aerodynamics, fuel economy and safety, the company says.

Peloton’s Level 1 system, PlatoonPro, requires a driver in both the lead and follow truck. The driver in the follow truck steers, but the system controls the powertrain and brakes to manage the following distance and to provide immediate reaction to whatever acceleration or braking the lead truck performs.

Leveraging its experience in deploying a commercial Level 1 platooning system, Peloton says its new Automated Following system is an SAE Level 4 autonomous platform that connects a fully automated follow truck with a driver-controlled lead truck to platoon. The V2V link allows the human-driven lead truck to guide the steering, acceleration and braking of the follow truck and connects the safety systems between the trucks, with minimal latency, the company says.

Peloton says it will be able to bring the platform to broad applicability for the industry on an increasing set of routes, weather conditions, and traffic conditions, expanding these operations much more rapidly than standalone (single vehicle) L4 solutions.