Trucks platoon ...

A platoon of self driving trucks on a German motorway. Credit: Daimler

An amazing infographics showing the lines of code used by different "objects". Credit: Informationisbeautiful.net

Daimler is connecting its trucks with the Internet. For the first time in the world in a live demonstration on a public "autobahn". 

PATH, Berkeley USA, had already experimented with trucks platoon back in 2011 but those trucks were not self driven they had a driver doing the driving and the electronic system took care of the speed to keep the trucks in a platoon formation.

A significant portion of gasoline is wasted to counteract air drag. By having trucks driving in a platoon it was demonstrated (first by PATH) that the savings can be significant, in the order of 10%, and that means less CO2 emissions.

In the case of the Daimler demonstration the autobahn was open to normal traffic and the trucks had to take care of changing the relative distance as other cars overtook them and decided to insert themselves in between them. When that happened they had to increase their mutual distance only to shorten it as the car moved away.

The trucks communicate with one another using WiFi and are real communications hubs. Each truck is equipped with 400+ sensors and their "brain" (software) is based on 100 million lines of code. That is more than what a last generation airplane has -a Boeing 787 has in total some 14 million lines of code. This does not mean that a truck is necessarily more complicated than a plane, it has just been designed in a less integrated way, something that Industry 4.0 is looking into solving.

Interesting also the investment that Daimler has announced: by 2020 they expect to invest half a billion € to bring their fleet into the Internet. Notice that at that point although you can buy, and own a truck produced by Daimler, the truck will still be part of Daimler fleet, reporting a variety of parameters to them and receiving constant monitoring, including software updates.  This might even lead (they are not explicitly saying this, just my thoughts) to different business models and open up new biz for Daimler and companies in the Daimler ecosystem. They may become part of the logistic chain and end up making more money from it than from the sale of trucks.

Take a look at this interesting article on truck platooning by Truck Locator.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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