Communication Needs and the Drivers’ Activity in Platooning Systems
Authors: Catarina Neto, Anabela Simoes, António Lobo
Abstract: The freight transport sector is requiring new solutions to overcome both the increase of energy consumption costs and the environmental concerns about CO2 emissions. Thus, automation and truck platooning are being put into practice imposing to truck drivers’ behavioral adaptation and new training needs. Such changes introduce human factors issues that must be studied and put into the new equations towards the service improvement without compromising road safety. Thus, this is the right moment to talk to truck drivers and explain them the two main positive effects of the introduction of the platooning technology in the freight transport: 1. the clear improvement of the previous truck drivers’ working conditions, represented by long hours on the road and the related passive fatigue leading to drowsiness and sleep risk; 2. the fact of being assisted by the technology and being a team on the job cooperating in every task on board toward the main task completion. The platooning technology allows for two or more trucks running in convoy at a pre-defined distance between each other, being virtually connected using connectivity technology and automated driving support systems. Two categories of drivers are considered: the leader, who is responsible for the driving task, and the followers, who, depending on the level of function automation required by the job, may or may not have responsibilities in the driving task. Truck platooning use automated driving and different V2X (vehicle-to-everything) communication such as V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle). This highlights the importance of human-to-human communication and the multiple human-system interactions towards the perfect coordination of actions. However, during the transition to full automation, the driver will still be kept “in the loop” or “on the loop”, as he/she will still be responsible for the driving task or, at least, for its supervision. Due to a strong dependence on different types of communications by this system, recent studies mention the need of a new categorization for the automation levels presented by SAE. Thus, the ENSEMBLE Project team proposes two new categorizations: Platooning Support Function and Platooning Automated Function. For this categorization, the following were considered: time between vehicles, lateral automation, speed lane, and the required operational areas. This requires deep research to avoid compromising road safety by the introduction of new risks, together with specific training for both categories of drivers.Portuguese freight companies, with regular transport across Europe are interested in introducing the platooning system. A new national research project (TRAIN) addresses these issues through an integrated approach that will identify the requirements for the development of truck platooning services and assess the requests for safe deployment in the real world. In a first stage, TRAIN selected professional truck drivers for Focus Groups (FG) aiming at collecting qualitative data about their acceptance, trust, reliance and willing to use levels. Due to the reduced number of participants, and taking into account the collected FG data, a survey is being launched. Then, the results will be discussed allowing for the simulations parametrization and tuning for the next experimental testing in driving simulator.
Keywords: Freight Transport, Truck Platooning, Communication and Conection Technology, Human Factors, Road Safety
Cite this paper: