Platooning technology tested for first time in US, on Wake County soil

Elaina Athans Image
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
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Officials test new technology that could make roads safer

WAKE COUNTY, NC (WTVD) -- Platooning technology is being tested for the first time on United States soil and the research is taking place in Wake County.

The North Carolina Turnpike Authority, Volvo Trucks North America, and partners such as FedEx, are teaming up to test the cutting-edge driver assistance technology, also known as platooning.

It will offer instantaneous, vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

A radar is mounted to the front bumper; it can slow down a vehicle's speed to the flow of traffic.

The radar also has the ability to automatically apply the brakes, and a radio will then notify other vehicles they need to break just the same.

Officials took ABC11 on the road to show specific examples of how the technology works.

In one instance, a car cut in between two trucks.

With the platooning technology, the truck behind rather quickly falls back and creates some distance on the road.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation believes the cutting-edge technology could one day make our roads safer and save lives.

"The technology can actually react faster than a human can," said NCDOT Director of Highway Operations Dennis Jernigan.

So far this year the NCDOT said more than 450 people died in traffic-related accidents.

In 2017, close to 1,400 people were killed.

Volvo is pushing forward the technology that can warn drivers of situations they might not be able to see.

"If you think about that foggy morning or intense downpour, having that extra alert distance or warning is very important to the driver," said Volvo Vice President of Product Planning Keith Brandis.

Volvo is hoping to put technology out on the marketplace, but that all depends on regulatory requirements.

Only a few states are allowing testing right now and North Carolina is one of them.

"This is very forward lending for North Carolina to invest in new highways and systems of the like for us to test this technology because we think this will be very much a part of the advanced driver assistance systems available in the future," said Brandis.

Officials said they'll continue testing out platooning technology in our area for the foreseeable future.