$5 Million from ARPA-E Backs Purdue-Led ‘Nextcar’ Project
Aiming for 20% Fuel Savings by Pairing Trucks to Reduce Drag
California’s Peloton Technology is talking up its role in a three-year, ARPA-E backed project to nearly triple the fuel savings of its truck “platooning” technology.
ARPA-E is the U.S Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. As part of Nextcar, the agency’s Next-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Autonomous On-Road Vehicles, a team led by Purdue University is receiving $5 million to apply advanced control technologies to increase Peloton’s fuel savings to about 20%.
Peloton is to go commercial in 2017 with its existing platooning technology. Paired trucks are expected to save upwards of 7% by reducing drag – the first in the platoon sees its fuel use reduced by about 4.5% while the following truck saves 10%.
Connected Automated Systems
The technology involves a wireless link “between the automated throttle and brake control systems on multiple trucks to synchronize their speeds and maintain a safe following distance even in the event of a sudden stop,” Peloton says.
“The 7% baseline fuel savings from the Peloton system has been validated through independent SAE Type II fuel economy testing conducted by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and NREL” (DoE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory), says the Silicon Valley company.
“Our first truck platooning system is coming to market in 2017,” Peloton CEO Josh Switkes said in a Monday release. “This project will build upon our existing system and is complementary to the higher-automation solutions we are developing next,” he said.
No capital expenditure is required: “We split the fuel savings with the fleet,” says Peloton’s research director Michael Palmer. Customers are in-hand, he told F&F.
Transmission & Engine Optimization
In addition to Purdue University and Peloton, Nextcar project participants include Cummins, Peterbilt, ZF TRW, the University of Arizona, and NREL.
The team will work on transmission and engine optimization, more efficient maintenance of exhaust after-treatment systems using look-ahead information, cloud-based remote engine and transmission recalibration, and transmission controls, ARPA-E says.
“The most promising strategies will be evaluated and refined using a phased approach relying on a combination of simulations, development and real-world testing,” states an agency summary.
The team will combine higher-automation platooning with automated throttle, brake and steering, Peloton says. Via Nextcar, Peloton gains “special access to control of the powertrain,” Palmer says.
“Peloton brings thought leadership and proven, compelling results in Class 8 truck platooning and connectivity,” Purdue mechanical engineering professor Greg Shaver says in the Peloton announcement. He is principal investigator for the project team.
With its $5 million in ARPA-E funding, the Purdue-Peloton project is one of the two largest of nearly a dozen of the agency’s new Nextcar fuel efficiency projects.
Work is to get underway in earnest in March.
Volvo Group Venture Capital invested in Peloton last year (F&F, April 27, 2015).
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Source: Peloton Technology with Fleets & Fuels follow-up