This summer, MAN launched the world’s first full vehicle platoon.
“MAN is taking a leading role in the automatisation and digitalisation of commercial vehicles”, explains Joachim Drees, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus. To illustrate his point, he highlights the company’s recent joint venture with DB Schenker, a global logistics provider and the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences in Germany.
Last month, they succeeded in carrying out the world’s first full deployment of electronically coupled trucks, or platooning. Truck platooning is the linking of two or more digitally connected vehicles that use automated driver assistance and steering systems. These convoys maintain a close distance between each vehicle. The first platoon traveled on a German highway in real traffic, putting professional drivers behind the wheel.
Drees highlights the different advantages of platooning. It reduces fuel consumption as the rear vehicle benefits from the airstream of the vehicle in front. The automated steering and braking systems increase the safety of the platoon and regulate the flow of traffic. And the minimal gaps between the vehicles optimise road space.
Following the pilot tests in real traffic, DB Schenker plans to make platoons a regular feature of freight transports between their Munich and Nuremberg branches. MAN trucks will travel back and forth four times a day loaded with goods.
Drees points out that MAN’s vision is to join with other industry leaders to introduce new technologies and processes, like platooning, throughout the supply chain. In his opinion, strategic partnerships are what will enable the industry to innovate. As he says, “It’s not simply a case of using a technology. It’s about beneficially integrating that technology into the whole logistics chain”.
Joachim Drees will be speaking on innovation and competition at the IRU World Congress in November.