This site has been archived on


Image Telematics Applications for Transport Image Research Information Image 4th Framework Research Image Projects



The amount of goods traffic on European motorways has increased dramatically over the last fifteen years. The CHAUFFEUR project has addressed this problem by developing new electronic systems for coupling trucks at close following distances

Setting the Scene

The volume of goods transported on European roads has doubled between 1980 and 1995, and the same doubling is expected to happen by the year 2010. The time taken for freight transport and travelling will increase drastically, costs will rise, and the environmental impact will be monumental.
This increase will lead to further workload on truck drivers and have direct, negative effects on traffic safety


CHAUFFEUR has tackled the problem by developing systems which will increase the density of freight traffic while preserving safety and will use existing roads better. The systems involve a "Tow Bar" which links two trucks electronically. Traffic simulations have proved that this will increase throughput, permitting larger amounts of goods to be transported further in a normal working day.
In feasibility studies, the concept has been extended to "Platooning" and "Automated Platooning", by which more than two trucks are linked electronically.
CHAUFFEUR has not only developed the technical systems to perform the vehicle-following function. Considerable time and money has gone into the definition of a sound and reliable system concept, a full cost benefit analysis, and an investigation into the legal and liability implications of such systems. The question of safety was seriously investigated, as was its acceptability to potential users.

Results and Achievements

Two fully operative pairs of CHAUFFEUR trucks have been constructed, incorporating all the Tow-Bar functions. The necessary components and subsystems were developed, such as video sensors for the tracking the lead vehicle, the vehicle controller and electronically controlled drive train, and the steering and brakes. A detailed safety concept for was created, which governed the building of the demonstration vehicles.
The CHAUFFEUR trucks were evaluated on a test track and under real-life traffic conditions, on the Brenner highway. Freight forwarders were invited to a workshop, and had a personal opportunity to experience the functions in operation. In general, they regard the CHAUFFEUR concept as very promising, and gave valuable comments for further development and spin-offs.
This work was accompanied by an examination of the legal and administrative issues related to the Tow-Bar application. A detailed report has been written outlining the steps that are necessary for certification, and highlighting potential problems. Another report has been written describing the operational and technical prerequisites for Platooning and Automated Platooning.

Conclusions and Plans for the Future

The work of CHAUFFEUR has proved that electronic coupling of trucks is technically feasible, economically viable, and operationally acceptable. However, more operational flexibility is needed to make maximum use of the system capabilities.
Future activities will therefore be focussed on an extension of the functions to a more universally usable system, one that can also be used when a leading vehicle is not one that is CHAUFFEUR-equipped.
Coupling of more than two trucks will be pursued, since in some European countries, for example in the Netherlands, this is increasingly appearing as an issue in transport policy.

Contact Details

Project Coordinator:
Matthias Schulze, DaimlerChrysler AG
Tel: +49 711 17 41888
Fax: +49 711 17 47054
E-mail: Matthias. (email removed)
Research Area: Autonomous Systems for Driver Assistance and Vehicle Control
Timescale: 01.01.96 - 31.12.98
Keywords: Electronic coupling of trucks; Tow Bar; Platoon; Professional Drivers; Freight forwarders
Key Project Participants:
DaimlerChrysler AG (DE)
Centro Ricerche Fiat S.C.p.A. (IT)
Robert Bosch GmbH (DE)
ZF Friedrichshafen AG (DE)

Public deliverables

D3.1.1 User, safety, and operational requirements

D7.1.1 Report on Safety Analysis of System Components and Hazard Analysis of Tow-Bar