If you’ve ever watched the Tour de France, you’ve seen how the bicyclists ride in a tightly packed group to reduce drag and conserve energy.
That concept — riding in “peloton” formation, as the French say — is the inspiration behind Peloton Technologies, a driving automation technology that allows a truck to (safely) drive very close behind another, reducing wind drag by as much as 10 percent.
This “platooning” technology — which still requires a human driver to be behind the wheel at all times — uses vehicle-to-vehicle communication and radar-based braking systems that ensure driver safety when vehicles are linked together.
“You can think about it like cruise control in your car,” Peloton CEO Josh Switkes told Bloomberg Television. “But we do it with a pair of trucks using a direct communication link.”
Connecting trucks to the cloud helps Peloton collect data that can be analysed to help improve fleet management. Connected trucks can also receive road hazard warnings, traffic and weather reports, and over-the-air software updates.
Drivers can create a platoon by pairing their own trucks or by linking up with other carriers equipped with Peloton technology.
Peloton estimates that platooning can reduce fuel costs by 7% — 4.5 on the lead truck and 10 percent on the rear truck.
Carriers pay an upfront fee for basic hardware add ons that Peloton says can be recouped within a matter of months. Peloton then splits the cost savings with the carrier so that the carrier incurs no additional costs.