Heavy-duty vehicles presently account for 17% of total CO2 emissions. In order to meet European Union’s goal to reduce greenhouse gases by 20 percent by 2020, it is paramount to improve global efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles.

Over the past two years, SCANIA conducted experiments on the Platooning concept (trucks interconnected through V2V communication running at a very close distance) and shown that interesting fuel savings can be achieved thanks to the reduced aerodynamic drag.

Nevertheless, even if benefits of platooning are clear, there is a lack of research on the actual creation, coordination, and operation of platoons. COMPANION is a three-year European research project aiming at identifying means of applying the platooning concept in practice in daily transport operations.

This will be achieved through the development of a real-time coordination system to dynamically create, maintain and dissolve platoons, according to a decision-making mechanism, taking into account historical and real-time information about the state of the infrastructure (traffic, weather, etc.). The consequence is that platoons will be no more composed just of vehicles with common origins and destinations, but they will be created dynamically on the road, by merging vehicles (or sub-platoons) that share subparts of their routes.

The project will also examine how to present information to drivers regarding where they can join and leave platoons, as well as suggest common regulations for the EU that would permit shorter distances between trucks in the platoon.

The project in total amounts to € 5.4 million, of which the 7th Framework Programme will fund € 3.4 million. The project will be led by Mr. Magnus Adolfson, from SCANIA.

The project also includes Volkswagen Group Research, Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology KTH, Oldenburger Institut für Informatik (OFFIS) in Germany, IDIADA Automotive Technology in Spain, Science & Technology in the Netherlands and the Spanish haulage company Transportes Cerezuela. The kick-off meeting was in Södertälje (SE) on October the 9th, 2013.

“We hope that this project will increase awareness in Europe of the many advantages of platooning,” says Sven-Åke Edström, Senior Vice President for Chassis Development. “Platooning will require standardised support systems as well as legislative action that will be clarified in this project.”

With Spanish IDIADA and Transportes Cerezuela as partners, the aim is to test the system in its entirety on Spanish roads during autumn 2016.