Browse Publications Technical Papers 2013-01-0767
2013-04-08

Making the Best Out of Aerodynamics: Platoons 2013-01-0767

In a near future, platooning could become one of the most accessible strategies to help reduce the consumption of fuel and the emissions of toxic gases in the atmosphere, while also adding safety to the users and generating a better traffic flow.
Nowadays, the auto industry and the governments are facing enormous challenges to reduce the amount of pollution in the atmosphere, to decrease the dependency on fossil fuels to generate energy and to increase safety on the highways. Several approaches are made, such as bio-fuels, hybrid and electric vehicles, engine downsizing and new modes of transportation that are more versatile and environmentally friendly. The downside is that most of this efforts are costly and require time and expense to be put to work.
Platooning is an alternative option to minimize the impact to the environment profiting from the aerodynamic effects that occur naturally around a moving vehicle. The technology is available and can become production ready by the year 2020. This has been evidenced by the project SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment), from the 7th European Framework Program. SARTRE is a collaborative project of 7 companies from 4 different countries that set out to develop a platooning system using off-the-shelf technology and requiring no modification to the road infrastructure.
To validate the previously mentioned benefits and to promote the adoption of this technology, the project partners developed a fully functional platoon prototype of 5 vehicles (2 trucks, 3 cars) and assessed its performance. Applus+ IDIADA, formerly the Instituto de Investigación Aplicada del Automóvil (Applied Automotive Research Institute) was the partner in charge of performing the fuel consumption evaluation and the system validation. For the fuel consumption evaluation, two approaches were considered.
First, an aerodynamic simulation to know the approximate reduction in aerodynamic coefficients and forces and then a set of track tests to evaluate the real fuel consumption and to validate the virtual data. The outcome was a reduction in the fuel consumption for all the vehicles.
To complement the results, some workshops were carried out with the relevant stakeholders, in order to obtain a set of proposals and requirements in technology state of the art and legislation changes required to adopt platooning on tomorrow's roads.

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