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ENabling SafE Multi-Brand pLatooning for Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ENSEMBLE (ENabling SafE Multi-Brand pLatooning for Europe)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-11-30

The main goal of the ENSEMBLE project is to pave the way for the adoption of multi-brand truck platooning in Europe to improve traffic safety, throughput and fuel economy. This will be demonstrated by driving up to seven differently branded trucks in one (or more) platoon(s) under real world traffic conditions across national borders during the final event.
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 required. This ultimately requires cooperative automation on different hierarchical levels, encompassing automation of strategic, tactical, as well as operational functionalities, based on reliable short-range vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-smart-infrastructure communications (V2X), and long-range back-office communications.
Aiming for Europe-wide deployment of platooning, ‘multi-brand’ solutions are paramount. It is the ambition of ENSEMBLE to realise pre-standards (i.e. mature input for standardisation) for interoperability between trucks, platoons and logistics solution providers, to speed up actual market pick-up of (sub)system development and implementation and to enable harmonisation of legal frameworks in the member states.
Platooning has shown to improve fuel economy, traffic safety and throughput. By enabling and stimulating platooning in Europe, platooning can become a more widespread phenomenon on the roads and in this way ENSEMBLE contributes to the ambitions of the EC to decrease Co2 emissions and increase traffic safety and traffic throughput.
The project has defined two different platooning levels: platooning as an autonomous and as a support function, of which the latter will be implemented and demonstrated throughout the ENSEMBLE lifecycle.
The support function, in a first step towards autonomous platooning, will produce V2X validated specifications, technology that ensures direct communication between all the trucks in a platoon, supporting the driver in safe speed and distance keeping. It also provides information to truck drivers in advance, allowing them to be more aware of road events. Drivers can hence have faster reactions in potentially dangerous braking situations, in addition to the possibility of coordinated braking manoeuvres amongst trucks involved in the platoon.
Consequently, the increased safety of trucks results in increased road safety in general.
In general the project is well on-track.
During the first period the project has concentrated on setting the specifications for multi brand platooning and implementation in 7 differently branded trucks.
In WP2 the definition of the specifications of the whole multi-brand truck platooning concept to be implemented within the testing and demonstration trucks of the 6 OEMs has been worked out. Starting from the current state of the art, common specifications aligned between all European truck OEMs have been defined.
These specifications are being updated through an iteration process. One important update already took place, since the safety analysis of the Platoon Level A has highlighted that travelling at small gaps such as 0.8s with the driver still responsible is not possible. That led to a change of the platooning levels definitions and consecutive modifications into a Supporting level and an Automated level of platooning.
In WP3 the requirements specifications are being implemented into demonstrator trucks (i.e. comprising hardware and software). The first activity was the detailed design of the unbranded Tactical Layer, as specified in WP2. The second activity was the development of a prototype unbranded real-time implementation of the Tactical Layer, consisting of real-time hardware, and the real-time version of the open-source software. Finally, the V2X message set, conform the ITS G5 protocol stack was implemented into a fully functional communication device. To facilitate testing in the other tasks of WP3, each OEM was provided with a Communication Unit from TNO.
In WP4 the impact of multi-brand platooning is assessed on different aspects being road infrastructure, logistics, business models, environment, other road users and traffic flow. For all of these impacts to be studied, Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) have been formulated. To analyze the impact of platooning on tunnels, contact with tunnel managers has been sought through ETPC and WP6, and the issue of platoons within tunnels has been analyzed. Also the actual tests on pavement with sensors in it have been arranged and were performed recently in January. For the environmental impact, two paths are foreseen: the measurement of fuel consumption and emission of pollutants, and a life-cycle analysis. A has been proposed for measurement of fuel consumption and emissions. The specifications of the platoon driving in the driving simulator were adjusted to the Support level specifications of ENSEMBLE platooning.
In WP5 the main objective is the testing, validation and demonstration of the results achieved in the ENSEMBLE project. To this end a common testing methodology is defined The tests will comprise of (1) proving ground tests (controlled environment) and (2) open road tests (real traffic situation). In P1 the WP5 test plan and methodology was defined. The use cases were mapped with corresponding KPIs and a testing methodology has been defined for WP5.
In work package WP6 the main objective is an effective and efficient dissemination of information. Online tools such as ENSEMBLE’s website and social accounts ensure the online presence and reputation of the project, together with a constant flow of information that directly reaches stakeholders and general public. Specific press activities, such as a series of online interviews with our consortium partners, have been launched to ensure more involvement from people outside the industry experts’ network. The identification and attendance of consortium representatives to events, workshops and conference, together with the presentation of scientific papers and publications, aims at widening ENSEMBLE’s target audience. ENSEMBLE participated in 25 of events by different means: projects presentation, exhibition space, distribution of printed material, special interest sessions and panel discussions.
Besides the communication and dissemination activities this WP focuses on the current EU regulatory framework on Truck Platooning and exemption procedures for multi-brand platoon testing across borders in multiple member states.
In the remaining part of the project the main results that will be achieved are the final implementation of the 7 truck brands with the ENSEMBLE support level platooning, the testing on test track and open road and finally the public demonstration. Also the results of a number of impact studies will become available.
The potential impact is on a Europe wide deployment of platooning with multi-brand vehicles in real, mixed traffic conditions. It is the explicit aim of this project to take the last steps of technological research before deployment of multi-brand truck platooning, via definition of pre-standards. With standards in place, production of required equipment can be developed and actual implementation of platooning can take place. This will potentially lead to improved traffic safety, improved traffic flow and increased energy efficiency of heavy duty traffic.