There are a variety of approaches and development projects centered on platooning. IDIADA is currently involved in the SARTRE Project, which is part of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development of the European Commission. This project has helped to establish some important concepts which show why platooning systems are a good way to increase safety and reduce pollution on tomorrow's highways.
IDIADA's activities within the project have led to performing virtual testing of the fuel consumption that a platoon achieves due to better aerodynamics. Also, dynamic simulations of how a platoon would behave in certain normal and emergency situations have been made. The validation trials for the project will demonstrate the qualities and benefits of platooning as a safe and eco-friendly option for the mobility of tomorrow.
This paper provides an overview of the benefits of platooning systems, in order to improve awareness and acceptance of platoons by the general public and relevant stakeholders. In general, platooning is safer than regular driving since vehicle control is purely autonomous, and the vehicle dynamics are optimized. This increases driving comfort, and improves traffic conditions and road usage.
IDIADA has the task of validating the system and also evaluating fuel consumption. To validate the system, a full scheme of the most important configurations and use cases has been considered. These will include closed track and if possible open road assessment.
For the fuel consumption evaluation, two approaches have been considered. Firstly, an aerodynamic simulation to know the approximate reduction in aerodynamic coefficient leading to lower engine output and hence fuel expenditure. Secondly, real fuel consumption testing during the trials to ensure that the virtual data is correct. The expected outcome is a reduction in the order of 15% fuel saving, and the results of the simulation will show the advantages of having smaller vehicles following a heavy vehicle.