Grant funds LSU autonomous truck ‘platooning’ research

An LSU professor is researching how to retool the supply chain and trucking industry to maximize safety and profits, according to the university.

With a $183,000 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents, transportation engineering professor Hany Hassan is studying truck platooning technology. Truck platooning is when trucks travel together connected by a computer system, which communicates with the trucks to align speed, acceleration, and braking. Drivers steer, watch the system, and intervene when needed.

“We are expecting this technology to help the freight movement,” Hassan says in a news release. “The main benefit of this project is trying to identify what will be the best platoon size—five or six trucks—and see if the trucks should stay in one lane or use two.”

Hassan’s work takes into consideration the behavior of other vehicles on the highway. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, platooning reduces operating costs for the trucking industry, cuts down air drag, improves fuel economy, and also has the potential to increase vehicle capacity on highways, particularly along freight corridors like Interstate 10.

Hassan says that while this new mode of traffic technology is incredibly beneficial, it also comes with its challenges.

“Imagine you are driving and there is a long platooning truck beside you,” he says. “You need to take the next exit. How do you get over? This is one of the scenarios we are going to test.” Read more from LSU.