Environmental Benefits of Vehicle Platooning 2013-26-0142
Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE), a research project funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme, has developed the technology and the strategy to create fully functional road trains that allow vehicle platoons to operate in public highways. The project intends to establish important concepts to show why platooning systems are a good way to increase safety and reduce pollution on tomorrow's highways.
As part of the activities within the project, the authors performed fuel consumption simulations to estimate the fuel consumption reduction of the platoon due to the aerodynamics improvement. Dynamic simulations of the platoon behaviour in certain normal and emergency situations were also performed.
Fuel consumption tests were also performed in companies proving grounds. These tests were performed using two trucks and three cars. Different platoon configurations were used, involving some or all the vehicles. Also, different leading vehicles were used to study the importance of the leading vehicle geometry in the fuel consumption results. Different gaps between the vehicles were considered to study the aerodynamic influences in the fuel consumption.
For all the platoon fuel consumption tests, a reference test at the same speed was performed to get a fuel consumption value that could be used as the reference for the consumption of each one of the vehicles. This reference test was performed immediately before or after the platoon test, so the weather conditions would be considered the same for both tests and the distances between the vehicles in the reference tests were enough to ensure that there were not aerodynamic influences of the other vehicles in the track.
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.
The task in the project was to validate the system and the fuel consumption. To validate the system, a full scheme of the most important configurations and use cases was considered. These included validation tests in a closed track and also open road assessment.
The validation trials for the project have demonstrated the qualities and benefits of platooning as a safe and eco-friendly option for the mobility of tomorrow.