We can detect three main development paths for truck platooning (see figure below) that signal the breadth of potential platooning applications:
- a growth in infrastructure usage
- platoon formation
- level of automation
These development paths indicate how platooning can be deployed in our society.
Infrastructure usage requirements: from closed areas to public main roads
First and foremost truck platooning technology must prove to be safe and reliable. The best place to test this is on non-public road networks, before platooning can be upscaled to the public road network.
Platoon formation: from schedules to on-the-fly platooning
Who takes care of forming the platoon? In the first development phases a limited number of vehicles will have been equipped with platooning technology and devices, and widespread market penetration will still be limited. In later stages, platoons might be formed dynamically on-the-fly. Or even by means of a specialized Platooning Service Provider.
Level of automation: from two drivers to one driver
The ultimate ambition of automated driving is to let technology take full control of all vehicles, without driver involvement. This is still some decades in the future, and the first step is to have a platoon of two or three vehicles with active drivers.
Image source: Janssen R. e.a., TNO, Truck Platooning Driving The Future of Transportation, February 2015.