During the introduction of the new Freightliner Cascadia, featuring Level 2 automated technologies, Daimler stated that it is reviewing it's standpoint with regard to platooning. The advantages appear to be limited.
Daimler Trucks announced also that it will invest EUR 500 million (around 570 million USD) over the next years and create more than 200 new jobs in its global push to bring highly automated trucks (SAE level 4) to the road within a decade. Highly automated driving is characterized as automated travel in defined areas and between defined hubs without any expectation of the system that a user will respond to a request to intervene. In commercial trucking, level 4 is the natural next step after level 2, increasing efficiency and productivity for customers, cutting costs per mile significantly. In doing so, Daimler Trucks is skipping the intermediate step of conditionally automated driving (level 3). Level 3 automated driving does not offer truck customers a substantial advantage compared to the current situation as there are no corresponding benefits to compensate for the technology costs.
The new Freightliner Cascadia offers partially automated driving features (level 2), making it the first-ever partially automated series production truck on North American roads. It also made its world premiere during today’s presentation of Daimler Trucks at CES in Las Vegas.
Daimler Trucks is reassessing its view on platooning. Daimler Trucks defines platooning as the electronic coupling of two or more trucks with significantly reduced distance between them to, in theory, improve aerodynamics and therefore save fuel. Daimler has tested platooning for several years, especially in the U.S., where benefits would be expected to be the most substantial. Results however show that fuel savings, even in perfect platooning conditions, are less than expected and that those savings are further diminished when the platoon gets disconnected and the trucks must accelerate to reconnect. At least for U.S. long-distance applications, analysis currently shows no business case for customers driving platoons with new, highly aerodynamic trucks. Daimler Trucks will, of course, remain committed to all partner projects that are still ongoing.