Modern ground freight systems support complex supply chains and logistics helping cities and economies thrive and grow. More weight and more value is being
transported everyday. A huge portion of those goods are transported by trucks on existing highly connected shared road infrastructure. Those trucks represent a significant fraction of road and mile users, and of energy consumers in many countries. Among those countries are the United States at its continental scale, and Saudi Arabia, where rail-road network is sparse putting high pressure on the road network to connect its distant ports and cities. This project is funded by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), the national research institute and the national research funding agency in Saudi Arabia, and is being conducted in collaboration with UC Berkeley. The project researches technologies that make the movement of goods on the road safer and more efficient. It builds on top of the California PATH’s decades long experience in highway automation and heavy duty vehicle automation, and on recent advances in robotics and control, artificial intelligence, and connected automation.
Problem statement and objectives
The current area of focus in this project is connected automated heavy duty trucks with emphasis on platooning. Platoons utilize automation and vehicle-to-
vehicle connectivity to enable safe and stable short vehicle following distances. Automation and short following distances increase road capacity, improve road safety, contributes to a smoother traffic, and allows for a more efficient and aerodynamic driving for groups of vehicles. Safe driving and string stability of vehicles in a platoon are priorities for system design and implementation. String stability refers to the ability of the vehicles to safely attenuate oscillations and maintain stability downstream the platoon. Actuation delays, actuation saturation, power to mass ratio, and mass dominance among other factors pose unique challenges to the design of dynamical control for heavy duty vehicles. Keeping those challenges in mind, this project attempts to advance heavy duty truck platooning technology and brings it a step closer to becoming a widely adopted reality.