ENSEMBLE project: the new frontier of multi-brand truck platooning

Nov 29, 2021
ENSEMBLE project: the new frontier of multi-brand truck platooning

ENSEMBLE (ENabling SafE Multi-Brand pLatooning for Europe) is a EU co-funded project initiated in June 2018 whose goal is to pave the way for the adoption of multi-brand truck platooning in Europe to improve fuel economy, traffic safety and throughput. The importance of implementing such practice is connected to its potential benefits in terms of environmental challenges and increased safety for truck drivers. Significant advances in platooning technology have been made in the last decade, but to achieve the next step towards deployment of truck platooning, an integral multi-brand approach is necessary. This ultimately requires cooperative automation on different hierarchical levels, including automation of strategic, tactical, as well as operational functionalities, based on reliable short-range vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-smart-infrastructure communications (V2X), and long-range back-office communications. At the basis of multi-brand truck platooning is a specially developed V2V communication system. In other words, in truck platooning, trucks are linked with automated driving support systems driving directly behind each other in small convoys. This ensures that every truck in the platoon correctly behaves in every traffic situation. To demonstrate these features, seven differently branded trucks drove in platoons under real life traffic conditions in September 2021 in Spain.

The ENSEMBLE project demonstrates two versions of platooning, respectively platooning as support function and platooning as autonomous function. In September 2021, in Barcelona, a real life presentation on truck platooning support function was exhibited. Providing live and public demonstrations of truck platooning in a real traffic environment, ENSEMBLE paves the way towards autonomous platooning, by providing important cornerstones for the required technologies (communication technology, brake performance estimation & platoon matching). The V2X communication technology assists a quick deployment of the platoon on the road, guaranteeing coordinated speed and rapid actions in potentially dangerous situations for the platoon. The second platooning function entails an autonomous function, where the driver is only actively available in the lead truck. Considering this specificity, safety is by design and it doesn’t depend on driver behaviour and driver reaction time anymore. The testing phase was severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, with some delays, all trucks were able to perform multiple tests on test tracks and open roads, before showing the 7-brand platoon on roads around Barcelona in September 2021.

The ENSEMBLE consortium, led by TNO, is composed of international partners from the automotive sector. ENSEMBLE brings the key actors of deployment together: all EU truck OEMs - DAF, Daimler Trucks, Iveco, Man trucks & bus, Renault trucks, Scania and Volvo trucks are part of the consortium as well as CLEPA (representing the automotive suppliers), NXP, Continental, IDIADA, UGE and ERTICO-ITS EUROPE. This EU project takes truck platooning to the next level, allowing international partners to share their knowledge and develop a common ground for further standardisation.

The final event of the ENSEMBLE project will take place on March 17, 2022 in Antwerp, Belgium. Join this event during which the final impact results and findings will be presented.