Trucking around the world will be radically transformed in the next years as the autonomous trucks "platooning" is now a reality. Companies are enabling safe cross-country travel of long convoys of these big juggernauts that resemble slower and larger versions of drafting or slipstreaming in auto racing.
The autonomous trucks platooning has been on engineers' work desks for some time and has passed two stages by now: the first one focuses on designing, testing, and refining the self-driving tools; the second one is implementing those technologies on local conditions. The autonomous evolution is due engineering teams participating in a driverless-related race for safely and securely enabling autonomous trucks on highways.
Some companies are solving the compromising aspects of truck-driving by building intelligent eighteen-wheelers with 24/7 Lane Keeping Assist Systems (LKAS), Cruise control systems to match speed with traffic conditions, Lane Change Assistance Systems (LCAS), and some more. Those long-haul platoons are being enabled with high-tech equipment: surround-view cameras, smart LIDAR and RADAR systems, powerful sensitive accelerometers, onboard computers with strong processing capabilities, and more.
The platooning is looking to pair self-driving trucks in sequence while communicating vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V); the idea is to keep the trailing truck behind the front one to decrease drag and maintaining optimal speed and acceleration —in order to maximize both efficiency and security, those two are the main reason behind autonomous truck platooning. In addition to the route and itinerary, engineers are still solving concerns with horsepower & torque, braking, and vehicle weight.
System readiness is not the principal obstacle for getting autonomous trucks platooning on the road, they need to overcome regulatory hurdles, as with self-driving cars.