NXP and DAF trucks have successfully demonstrated self-driving technologies in automated trucks.
The European Truck Platooning challenge took place today (5 April) and showed the future of smart highways and freight transport using vehicle-to-vehicle communication.
The demonstration had trucks driving in columns (platooning) on public roads from several European cities to the Netherlands. The challenge is designed to bring autonomous platooning one step closer to implementation by showcasing economic, traffic management and safety advantages. It also addresses the need for legislation and standardisation of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) across Europe, as current rules and regulations regarding speed and distance vary between countries.
Under the EcoTwin consortium, NXP, DAF, TNO and Ricardo joined forces to make this demonstration possible. The core of the ‘EcoTwin’ technology setup is a sophisticated vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications solution, RoadLINK, developed by NXP. It uses the wireless communications standard IEEE 802.11p combined with NXP radar technology to empower the trucks within the platoon to securely exchange information in real time and automatically brake and accelerate in response to the lead truck. The high speed of communication and responsiveness of NXP RoadLINK technology allows extremely tight distances and truly synchronous driving between the platooning DAF Trucks. To demonstrate autonomous acceleration and braking, the planned distance between the vehicles is slated for 0.5 seconds – which, when traveling at 80 kph (50 mph), translates to a distance of only 10 metres (30 feet). The responsiveness of the trailing truck within the platoon is estimated at 25 times faster than the average human reaction time of one second – saving critical time in case of emergency braking.
The RoadLINK communication system designed by NXP is built into the mirrors of the DAF Trucks participating in the platoon. The redundant NXP V2V system design with four secure channels ensures reliable communication. In addition to providing the platooning commands, it provides real time video and bi-directional audio communication between the two vehicles. The audio allows the drivers to talk to each other without relying on other communication channels, such as cellular networks. Furthermore, the V2V powered camera in the lead truck streams what it “sees” to the driver in the trailing truck, providing a clear look at the road ahead.
“We’re honored to be part of the European Truck Platooning Challenge as a key partner and provider of the secure vehicle-to-vehicle and radar technologies for the DAF trucks – DAF and other truck platoons will use our technology to complete their journey safely and effectively,” said Torsten Lehmann, senior vice president of car infotainment and driver assistance for NXP. “As a clear industry leader in driving adoption of Vehicle-to-X technologies, NXP is helping to improve fuel efficiency, emissions, safety, and traffic flow in the European Union, while avoiding accidents and saving lives.”
“It goes without saying that there is still a lot of continued development required before we can introduce platooning as a new technology on the market,” adds Ron Borsboom, member of DAF Trucks’ board of management and responsible for product development. “This is definitely not a process that will be complete before 2020. There is still a great deal that has to be sorted out in terms of legislation, liability and acceptance. This demonstration should pave the way for truck manufacturers to be allowed to carry out further testing of the technology on public roads in order to acquire even more experience. It is now up to politicians to make this possible.”
During the UK government’s recent Spring Budget it was confirmed that trials of truck platooning will take place on the strategic road network.
Pictured from left to right, Christophe Leurident (Advisor Belgian mobility Minister Galant), Ron Borsboom (Director of Product Development DAF), Maurice Geraets (Director New Business NXP), Leo Kusters (Managing Director Urbanization TNO), Gert Liefting (Managing Director Ricardo Netherlands)