Automated & Connected

Peloton develops a Level 4 automated platooning system, but keeps the driver in charge

Peloton Technology Inc. is taking a novel (or maybe traditional) approach to vehicle automation by placing the driver in control. The company, which specializes in connected and automated vehicle technology in the freight industry, plans on doubling shipping productivity by having human drivers lead a platoon of automated vehicles using SAE International Level 4 “Automated Following” technology.

Peloton’s PlatoonPro and Automated Following systems work by using vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology and radar-based active braking systems in combination with vehicle control algorithms. In doing so, heavy trucks can be connected to improves aerodynamic drafting by locating trucks in vehicle slipstreams, which in turn increases fuel economy by an average of seven percent.



“We’ve taken a different approach to commercial introduction of automation in Class 8 vehicles.” says Peloton Technology CEO, Josh Switkes. “We see the drivers as the world’s best sensors, and we are leveraging this to enable today’s drivers to be more productive through automated following platoons.”

Peloton’s Automated Following is an evolution of the company’s PlatoonPro Level 1 driver assistance system, where human drivers are in both the lead and follow trucks. The driver in the follow truck steers, but the system controls the powertrain and brakes to manage the following distance very precisely and to provide immediate reaction to whatever acceleration or braking the lead truck performs.



PlatoonPro has now operated with six customers and additional customer fleet trials are underway. In each case, the customer and Peloton have seen a perfect safety record, with vehicles using the system as much as 90 percent of the drive. Platooned miles per day have exceeded 700 miles per truck in some cases, resulting in projected fuel savings per truck up to $7,000 to $10,000 per year.


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The new Automated Following system, unveiled at the 2019 Automated Vehicle Symposium in Orlando, further enhances efficiency with an SAE Level 4 autonomous solution and a fully automated follow truck with a driver-controlled lead truck. The V2V link allows the human-driven lead truck to guide the steering, acceleration, and braking of the follow truck and connects the safety systems between the trucks with minimal latency.

Peloton’s unique approach of combining the experience of a human driver in the lead truck with state-of-the-art sensors and hardware in the follow truck greatly simplifies many of the technical challenges the vehicle automation industry faces with deploying standalone SAE Level 4 driverless systems. Peloton will be able to bring this solution to broad applicability for the industry on a rapidly increasing set of routes, weather conditions, and traffic conditions, expanding these operations much more rapidly than standalone (single vehicle) Level 4 solutions.


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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at