The study concluded that there are no specific federal policies or regulations that prohibit the use, operation, or deployment of truck platooning technologies for light or heavy duty vehicles and that regulation at the state level is the primary barrier to wide-spread truck platooning technology deployment, though Congress has introduced two separate bills related to automated vehicles. Under both bills, states retained the authority to set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance, and safety inspections, but not performance standards. Neither bill included provisions for the heavy-duty truck classes covered by this study.
The study examined the following areas:
- Platooning technology is in the final stages of commercialization and will be readily available for market in the 2017–2018 time-frame. Customer adoption will depend on a positive business case, which will require performance, reliability, and safety data to be collected and analyzed.
- Some issues remain for inter-fleet operations (communications, standards, and inter-fleet agreements), though when solved, will bolster the viability of the technology through multiple fleet types.
- Deployment will also likely be geographically dependent with more use in good weather (not heavy rain, snow, or strong winds) and areas with limited access highways and light traffic.
- The most mentioned barrier to implementation was scheduling multiple trucks to go to a nearby destination for platooning purposes.
- Platooning’s primary benefit for fleets are reduced fuel consumption and associated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, though benefits derived would depend on the vehicle’s weight, driving speed, and following distance.
- Peloton Technology (Peloton) system test using Peterbilt trucks (consisting of a two-truck platoon) resulted in an average fuel consumption saving of 4.5 percent for the lead truck and 10 percent for the following truck (overall “team” savings were an estimated 7.25 percent). To provide an example, a two-truck platoon traveling between Buffalo and Albany would save 7.1 gallons of fuel, equating to a cost savings of $18.55 (assuming a base of 6.0 mpg and a fuel cost of $2.62 per gallon of diesel fuel).
- On a regular five-day week route yield, the estimated savings per year would be $4800, $14,500 savings over the typical first owner’s three-year ownership period, and a 10-year lifetime savings of $48,500.
- The trucking industry views increased safety as a primary reason to adopt platooning technology.
- Truck platooning technology implementation would lead to fewer injuries, fewer deaths, and lower crash rates, resulting in reduced insurance costs.
Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) Rule:
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a proposed Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) rule for light-duty vehicles in December 2016.
- If approved, the communications defined in the rulemaking would be mandatory for light-duty vehicles. Several project stakeholders suggested that a medium-duty/heavy-duty version or extension of the DSRC rulemaking could follow if the light-duty rule is approved and would hasten the implementation of truck platooning technologies.
Testing in the U.S.:
- Several states have permitted platooning tests as an involved way of receiving real-world information on platooning and an up-close perspective on the technology’s potential opportunities and barriers.
- Platooning testing has been completed in Texas, Ohio, Michigan, California, and Nevada. Higher-level automated HD truck platooning technology (Level 3 and higher) has been tested in limited amounts in the U.S.
Feedback from Trucking Fleet:
- Trucking fleets housed in, or operating in, NYS that are interested in truck platooning were interviewed.
- All were interested in testing or adopting for use in their fleets. Each fleet’s operation, however, is very different, which highlighted platooning's benefits and how widespread application may be slowed by operational differences.
- There are no specific federal policies or regulations that prohibit the use, operation, or deployment of platooning technology, though the U.S. Congress has introduced bills to accelerate automated vehicle testing and deployment.
- Policy barriers to implementation are primarily at the state level.
- In New York State’s regulation, truck following distance and speed requirements would need to be amended and updated prior to truck platooning testing and deployment.
- Several states have found it valuable to develop policy language that defines what the term “platooning” specifically means and in what capacity it relates to commercial vehicle operations. These definitions differentiate between platooning-specific operation and automated vehicles, and create a simpler and more focused policy.
- Multiple States require "Permission to Operate Platooning Vehicles" to allow platooning on public roads. The state requires that truck fleets secure pre-deployment permission via an approved platooning plan or application to operate platooning trucks on public roads.
Longer-Term Policy Needs:
- More highly automated vehicle technology will likely be integrated into future heavy duty truck applications. As technology advances, additional vehicle automation, not necessarily platooning-specific, policies may be needed to support testing and widespread deployment, so its benefits can be realized.
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