NXP, DAF Trucks, TNO and Ricardo previously achieved a breakthrough truck platooning distance of 0.5 seconds between trucks. While platooning at 80 km per hour, trucks that were linked wirelessly via V2X technology, along with high-performance camera and radar systems, were able to maintain a distance of 11 meters flawlessly. The consortium is now cooperating to further bring down the minimum distance between trucks by another 40 percent (to 0.3 seconds which equals 7 meters at 80 km/h). In this new 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.
Current rules require 50 meters between trucks, versus autonomous platooning, in which 11 meters is already possible.
Reger is fully aware of the socio-economic consequences. Asked if platooning would eventually take away a trucker's job he said, “The industry is already predicting a shortage of truckers 10 to 15 years from now," he said, predicting truckers will become logistics specialists.
Radar can detect a car cutting in faster and more accurately. (Source: NXP)
This breakthrough will be achieved through a variety of technology enhancements that improve safety:
- The integration of a powerful Sensor Fusion and Control System that can create, monitor and maintain platooning and driving modes in a functionally safe way, even with the occurrence of external hazards or internal malfunctioning system-behavior. Even in the latter situations, the convoy will operate fail-safe.
- The system will need to operate at a high functional safety level to enable the shorter driving distance safely. This will be accomplished by using ASIL (“functional safety”) qualified components from NXP such as microcontrollers, microprocessors, power management ICs, and networking components. The basis for the system development is the NXP BlueBox platform that incorporates most of the aforementioned components.
- Enhanced radar will detect road interferences (such as cars cutting in) faster and more accurately to seamlessly adjust the distance between the trucks. For this purpose, NXP is also announcing a new, high-performance radar microcontroller (LINK) at Electronica 2016.
"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."
“Together with our smart transportation partners we have completed more than one million test days globally in secure vehicle-to-x communications based on NXP’s RoadLINKTM solution,” said Kurt Sievers, General Manager NXP Automotive. “Our tests have shown the maturity and strong security levels of RoadLINK, which is being deployed in its first production cars. Today’s demonstrations with DAF Trucks, Siemens, Honda and other partners underscore the power of ultra-fast, secure and direct communication between traffic participants.“