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July 16, 2019

Knorr-Bremse and Continental complete truck platooning demonstrator

Knorr-Bremse and Continental announced they had completed and shown some customers at testing grounds their truck platooning demonstrator operating.

By Olly Wehring

Knorr-Bremse and Continental announced they had completed and shown some customers at testing grounds their truck platooning demonstrator operating.

This cross-supplier cooperation has produced a platooning system which demonstrates five central driving functions: forming, driving, emergency braking, exiting by individual vehicles and splitting up.

Initial demonstrations and tests with commercial vehicle makers have been conducted but the system is still being developed. The pair are now focused on developing Highway Pilot.

Knorr-Bremse claims to be "the world market leader for braking systems" (and also supplies subsystems for rail and commercial vehicles) while Continental is a Tier 1 auto supplier and tyre maker.

The platooning demonstrator platoons three trucks from different automakers.

Special attention is given to the process for transferring control from the driver to the vehicle.

A key element of this is clear instructions on what to do, which the driver receives via the specially designed human/machine interface which displays the information graphically and clearly. This enables the driver to track the status of the system. The transfer itself is initiated by the push of a button as soon as the partner vehicle is less than 50m away.

The synchronous vehicle to vehicle (V2V) emergency braking function ensures greater traffic safety – by initiating simultaneous braking of all the vehicles, without any delay due to reaction times, the vehicles come to a stop the same distance apart as during driving.

That now gives customers a test platform for platooning regardless of vehicle make, and a basis on which the technology can be further developed.

"With the demonstrator, we've reached the first milestone of our joint work. The focus now is on exchanging ideas with the vehicle manufacturers for further development of the system in line with customers' product strategy", said Gilles Mabire, Continental's head of commercial vehicles and aftermarket.

"Progress is continuing in the relevant technologies and our understanding of the market is improving. This is changing the conditions for automated driving and the speed at which automated driving functions are introduced," said Knorr-Bremse commercial vehicles chief Peter Laier.

"The main focuses in development thus change as well. Flexibility and openness when it comes to customer requirements and implementation routes is the key to our success. That's why we're keen to have close communication with our customers. It means we can present our roadmaps for products and functions, create vehicle demonstrators and react quickly to align our work with customer needs and market requirements."

The partners also plan further development work on automated driving on highways, the 'Highway Pilot'.

For the demonstrator, Continental supplies the sensors including cameras, radar and lidar. Together with V2V communication, the environment sensors are central to safely maintaining the very short distance between vehicles during platooning which makes fuel-saving driving possible.

To process the sensor signals – including those with data from other vehicles (V2V) or on the traffic infrastructure (V2X) – a development environment is initially being used for the demonstrator.

A model of the environment is created from the data, enabling the truck to orient itself. In future, the system will use Continental's central Assisted & Automated Driving Control Unit (ADCU) and the Knorr-Bremse Global Scalable Brake Control (GSBC) to supply input for driving strategy.

For planning trajectory, Knorr-Bremse is contributing knowledge of the specific requirements placed on commercial vehicle dynamics. It is also implementing the requirements for driving stability (Motion Control) and for the actuator level, converting the driver's decision into specific control processes inside the vehicle, and actuating steering and braking for longitudinal and lateral control.

Knorr-Bremse is also handling system integration, including validation.

Next step – the Highway Pilot, intended to allow highly automated driving by single trucks on highways. A first demonstrator is planned for next year when the partners will be ready to develop this technology jointly with the automakers and other suppliers.

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