Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology equipped semi trucks will begin platooning on U.S. highways by the end of this year.

Silicon Valley startup Peloton Technology said his company will deliver its V2V system package late this year to a small number of truck fleets.

“We will purposely slow down our initial rollout to make sure it’s going well,” Peloton CEO Joshua Switkes told Automotive News.

“But in 2018, we want to deliver as many systems as truck fleets will buy,” he said.

Peloton’s V2V technology is similar to adaptive cruise control. The system is an integrated safety, efficiency, and analytics platform that builds on advanced safety technologies such as collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control systems, and uses short-range communication radio signals to transmit information between vehicles.

When the system is activated, the following truck automatically moves closer to the lead vehicle and maintains a gap of 35 to 50 feet. Drivers in each truck steer their vehicle, while cruise control systems adjust speed.

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Trucks that are platooning drive close together, reducing aerodynamic drag that significantly reduces fuel consumption — a major lure for truck fleets.

In a 2013 test, pairs of Peloton-equipped Peterbilt semis drove back and forth on Utah’s Interstate-80 to log their fuel savings. The lead trucks reduced fuel consumption by 4.5 percent, while those trailing saw a 10 percent fuel savings.

The Peloton system is designed for long stretches of highways with few on ramps, and it is likely that trucks will de-couple completely when entering dense urban freeway areas and re-connect when leaving.

Peloton’s fleet customers will be limited to two vehicles, and will only travel on rural highways in states that allow trucks that are properly equipped to tailgate.

State trucking regulations vary when it comes to the distance that must be kept between trucks. A few states require a distance of 300 feet or so, while others only require only a “prudent distance.”

Switkes said 11 states have approved demonstration trials for platooning trucks, while an additional 25 are considering it. One state, Michigan, has given the go ahead for commercial truck platoon use.

Automotive News