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Large truck technology may improve safety

Like self-driving passenger vehicles, large trucks in New York will soon be driven more by technology than the person in the driver’s seat. According to CNBC, that day may come in the very near future, as one company tests its truck platooning system on roads across America.

Truck platooning has the potential to lower shipping costs considerably through the conservation of fuel. A single semitrailer creates a significant amount of wind resistance, but as the air flows around it, the position immediately behind can capitalize on the reduced drag. To take advantage of this at highway speeds, a second truck would have to be as close as 50 to 80 feet—a much shorter distance than the recommended and safe 160 to 240 feet.

According to Peloton Technology, the reduced following distance is safe for platooning trucks when they are connected through a virtual link. The acceleration and brake pedals for both trucks become controlled only by the lead driver. The person operating the second truck would be prepared to take over at a moment’s notice if a smaller vehicle cut between the trucks in traffic, or if some other factor disrupted the link. The connection could also be manually broken at any time.

The technology includes many safety features that motorists have come to expect in new passenger vehicles, such as radar and cameras that support collision mitigation. The system is also monitored by the company through GPS so that professionals can offer drivers support in real time. Cybersecurity and hacking of truck computers are also threats that the company addresses in order to keep drivers and other motorists safe.

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