Analysis of Platooning Trucks to Better Understand Dynamic Air Flow

Michael Lammert, Chen Zhang

Research output: NRELPoster


Track testing has shown significant fuel-savings promise for truck platooning strategies but also raised unexpected questions about close following and long-distance following scenarios that could significantly impact savings realized in real-world conditions. The 2017 track test collaboration among NREL, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NRC Canada, Transport Canada, and others included onboard instrumentation to help the team gain a deeper understanding of the dynamic interaction between multiple vehicles. NREL's approach includes detailed data analysis for additional onboard sensors and J1939 CAN bus data from 2017 track test to investigate following truck air flow and turbulence changes to explain reduced savings at close following distances for the last vehicle in a platoon, define engine-cooling impacts of platooning position in different formations due to reduction of ram air through front grill and generate an understanding of a true in-use "baseline" with other vehicles on the highway. Initial data analysis indicates many of the data trends in wind angle, wind speed, and temperatures show a change in pattern for the closer following distances where fuel savings decrease for the following vehicles was also documented. This is encouraging in that the planned further analysis may yield the desired insights into the cause of the reduced savings. Once analyzed, light-duty vehicle and dynamic scenarios will help us refine the sensitivity of findings from the standard platooning scenarios.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NamePresented at the 2019 Vehicle Technologies Office Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting, 10-13 June 2019, Arlington, Virginia

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-5400-73747


  • aerodynamics
  • CACC
  • freight efficiency
  • fuel consumption
  • fuel economy
  • instrumentation
  • temperature
  • track testing
  • truck platooning
  • vehicle strategies
  • wind direction
  • wind speed


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