The practice of drafting – where moving objects are grouped tightly together to exploit the lead object’s slipstream – has been used in motorsports, cycling, and speedskating for years. It would make sense for commercial vehicles to use this method to increase fuel efficiencies. There’s one problem; however: it is an extremely dangerous practice on the road.
Truck platooning is the term for an emerging set of technologies that can link heavy vehicles together using wireless communications, adaptive cruise control, crash avoidance systems, and automatic coupling /decoupling features. CFD is helping the automotive industry develop platooning technologies for commercial truck fleets that can help create safer roads and increase fuel efficiencies.
With fuel making up about 38 percent of the cost of operating a truck fleet, any increase in fuel efficiency stands to significantly reduce costs. The Department of Energy estimates that platooning could deliver a four percent reduction in fuel consumption. With commercial trucks consuming more than 30 billion gallons of fuel annually in the U.S. alone, the cost savings and reduction in carbon emissions would be significant.