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Truck platooning

Faster than human reaction time

At the Electronica tradeshow, DAF demonstrated truck platooning in the city of Munich. The trucks were equipped with NXP’s Bluebox featuring multi-core processors.

The truck platooning demonstration took place in Munich during the Electronica exhibition (Photo: NXP)

The shown truck platooning is the result of the Eco Twin Truck Platooning project. Participants include DAF Trucks, NXP, Ricardo, and TNO. The project’s objective is to reduce the distance between platooning trucks by another 40 % in 2017. Platooning promises to increase fuel efficiency up to 10 %, improve road safety, and reduce exhaust emissions like CO2, PM and NOx.

The demonstrations included platooning live on Munich roads, traffic signal, and vehicle synchronization, and technology that protects vulnerable road users based on secure vehicle-to-everything technology (V2X). NXP and DAF Trucks have also announced plans to empower truck platoons to react 30 times faster than humans in 2017. Achieving this goal would mark a significant milestone in the introduction of platooning to fleet operators who expect considerable efficiency and safety gains while maintaining a maximum level of data security.

The Bluebox with CAN connectivity by NXP was the heart of the truck platooning demonstration Munich (Photo: NXP)

The basis for the system development is the NXP Bluebox platform. It features sensor fusion functionality and provides functional safety. The Bluebox originally developed by Freescale is now in the responsibility of NXP and soon by Qualcomm, when the acquisition of NXP is finalized. It contains the S32 V200 automotive vision processor and the LS2088A comprising eight 64-bit Cortec-A72 cores. The platform also includes several interfaces for sensors such as radar, camera, and Lidar and provides all necessary sensor fusion software. For communication to the in-vehicle networks, the S32 V200 is equipped with two CAN FD and Gbit-Ethernet interfaces.

The trucks were platooning at 80 km/h, the vehicles were linked via V2X technology using camera and radar systems. They were able to maintain an 11-m distance flawlessly. The consortium is now cooperating to further bring down the minimum distance between trucks by another 40 % (to 0,3 s which equals 7 m at 80 km/h). In this context, the platooning system will need to reliably react 30 times faster than a human driver. This requires the wireless communication between trucks to take place in the timeframe of milliseconds and to forward this information into the in-vehicle networks. "Helping platoons react 30 times faster than humans is a tall order that we are not taking lightly," said Ron Borsboom, Director Product Development at DAF Trucks. "While there is still a lot of research and development required to make this a reality, we are working with NXP on an ambitious plan to demonstrate the improved response time in 2017."


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