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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This fact sheet is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-17-045    Date:  July 2017
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-17-045
Date: July 2017


The Exploratory Advanced Research Program

Expanding The Freight Capacity of America's Highways Platooning and Connectivity to Increase Efficiency


Exploratory Advanced Research…Next Generation Transportation Solutions

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© n.d. University of California, Berkeley. Three Class 8 trucks equipped with CACC during field test.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that freight tonnage moving on the Nation’s transportation network will grow 40 percent in the next 25 years and the value of the freight will double.1 FHWA’s Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program is pursuing research that will help alleviate the looming problem posed by increasing demand for highway freight capacity by allowing long-distance trucks to travel together more efficiently. The research projects titled “Partial Automation for Truck Platooning,” and “Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control” are underway at Auburn University (in partnership with Peterbilt Truck, American Transportation Institute, Peloton Technology, and Meritor, Inc.) and at the University of California, Berkeley’s Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology program (in partnership with Volvo Technologies of America and Cambridge Systematics). These projects are developing technology and strategies that allow two and three trucks to travel close together in “platoons,” using advanced sensors and connected vehicle technologies to maximize efficiencies.

Truck Platooning to Improve Efficiency

The EAR Program’s research into truck platooning is informed by stark economic realities of long-distance freight movement. Over the past decade, fuel costs have been the largest single component of a trucking fleet’s costs per mile (CPM). Even at record-low 2015 prices, fuel costs that year were slightly higher than $0.40/mi, second only to driver wages.2 Small improvements in efficiency can have a significant payoff, and technology that allows trucks to communicate and travel together efficiently in multivehicle platoons promises to help lower fleet CPM.

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