Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

NXP,DAF aim for platoons 30 times faster than humans

William Payne
November 11, 2016

Dutch embedded systems specialist NXP Semiconductors and fellow Dutch truck maker DAF are working on improvements to truck platooning that will allow truck platoons to react 30 times faster than humans in 2017. According to NXP, achieving this performance and safety benchmark would mark a breakthrough in market acceptability of truck platooning. Adopting platooning can increase fuel efficiencies by 10 percent and cut harmful emissions say advocates. 
Ricardo, TNO, NXP and DAF Trucks, members of the EcoTwin Truck Platooning Project, are also currently in a research phase aiming to reduce the distance between platooning trucks by another 40 percent in 2017. 
The two companies are also planning on showcasing truck platooning in the city of Munich with the inclusion of intelligent traffic lights (Siemens) that automatically adapt traffic signalling based on the truck convoy’s location, thus significantly improving the traffic flow.

Together with Honda, Siemens, Marben, Cohda Wireless and Chemtronics, other live demonstrations in Munich will include secure V2X use cases, such as the detection/warning of motorcycles for improved safety. An autonomous car built by the University of Eindhoven using NXP sensor fusion will also be at the event.

NXP, DAF Trucks, TNO and Ricardo previously achieved a breakthrough truck platooning distance of 0.5 seconds between trucks. While platooning at 80 km per hour, trucks that were linked wirelessly via V2X technology, along with high-performance camera and radar systems, were able to maintain a distance of 11 meters flawlessly. The consortium is now cooperating to further bring down the minimum distance between trucks by another 40 percent (to 0.3 seconds which equals 7 meters at 80 km/h). In this new context, the platooning system will need to reliably react 30 times faster than a human driver. This requires the wireless communication between trucks to take place in the time frame of milliseconds.

This breakthrough will be achieved through a variety of technology enhancements that improve safety:

The integration of a powerful Sensor Fusion and Control System that can create, monitor and maintain platooning and driving modes in a functionally safe way, even with the occurrence of external hazards or internal malfunctioning system-behaviour. Even in the latter situations, the convoy will operate fail-safe.

The system will need to operate at a high functional safety level to enable the shorter driving distance safely. This will be accomplished by using ASIL (“functional safety”) qualified components from NXP such as microcontrollers, microprocessors, power management ICs, and networking components. The basis for the system development is the NXP BlueBox platform that incorporates most of the aforementioned components.

Enhanced radar will detect road interferences (such as cars cutting in) faster and more accurately to seamlessly adjust the distance between the trucks. For this purpose, NXP is also announcing a new, high-performance radar microcontroller (LINK) at Electronica 2016.

"Helping platoons react 30 times faster than humans is a tall order that we are not taking lightly,” said Ron Borsboom, Director Product Development at DAF Trucks. “While there is still a lot of research and development required to make this a reality, we are working with NXP on an ambitious plan to demonstrate the improved response time in 2017."

“Together with our smart transportation partners we have completed more than one million test days globally in secure vehicle-to-x communications based on NXP’s RoadLINKTM solution,” said Kurt Sievers, General Manager NXP Automotive. “Our tests have shown the maturity and strong security levels of RoadLINK, which is being deployed in its first production cars. Today’s demonstrations with DAF Trucks, Siemens, Honda and other partners underscore the power of ultra-fast, secure and direct communication between traffic participants.“