COLLEGE STATION, Texas – If you see the driver of a big rig with no hands on the wheel, you hopefully are witnessing a new technology developed at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp recently took a ride in truck that was virtually driving itself. While cruising on a closed track, Chancellor Sharp spoke with engineers about an exciting technology, called “platooning,” which allows sensitive equipment to virtually connect two or more 18-wheelers as they transport goods on highways and roadways – all while remaining perfectly aligned.

“The work being done at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute could have far-reaching and positive effects on our economy and the environment,” Chancellor Sharp said. “As usual, TTI does great transportation research – the best in the country.”

Chancellor Sharp recently spoke with Mike Lukuc, research scientist at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, to discuss the current technology behind truck platooning and its future.

See a video here:

A technological combination of radar, cameras, monitoring systems and control algorithms allows a lead driver to actively operate his or her truck, while a second driver disengages in a second truck, not needing to steer or control speed.

Platooning can provide significant fuel savings by taking advantage of aerodynamics as two or more trucks travel in tight formation, research shows. When two trucks are connected, the lead truck will see a 4 percent fuel savings, and the second truck would see savings of 8 percent. That total savings could reduce the cost of groceries and other cargo items. Improved air quality and a reduction of commercial drivers’ workload also will be realized as platooning trucks begin to roll down America’s highways.

After proving the viability of the concept, TTI put a plan in place in November 2016 to safely deploy platooning on a commercial fleet. The next phase, which is not yet scheduled, will involve TTI deploying commercial truck platooning on Texas highways.

As and other technologies advance, TTI will continue to explore platooning technology and other cutting-edge research with partners including the Texas Department of Transportation and private companies – such as truck makers and equipment suppliers.

About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $4.55 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities and seven state agencies, the Texas A&M System educates more than 148,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $972 million in FY 2016 and helped drive the state’s economy

Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6425
(512) 289-2782 cell