Volvo, others invest in truck platooning firm

California-based Peloton Technology, a developer of vehicle systems that deliver advanced safety, fuel savings and analytics to trucking fleets, recently received an infusion of venture capital funds from industry investors, including Volvo Group Venture Capital.

Other investors include Magna International, Castrol innoVentures and UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund. The investment will accelerate Peloton’s development and deployment of truck platooning technology for the U.S. and international trucking industries.

“Peloton’s truck safety and platooning technology has the potential to dramatically improve highway safety and operational efficiency for trucking fleets,” said Rodney Slater, Peloton board member and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
“These truck safety and automation technologies are a key part of the systems that the U.S. needs to address the dramatic growth in freight and traffic in the years ahead.”

The Peloton Truck Platooning System is a vehicle automation technology that has the potential to save lives and save fuel in today’s trucking operations. The system electronically couples pairs of trucks through a combination of vehicle-to-vehicle communications, radar-based active braking systems and proprietary vehicle-control algorithms. The direct communication link between the two trucks enables the rear truck to automatically react to acceleration or braking by the front
truck nearly instantaneously. This automatic and immediate reaction improves safety and allows trucks to travel at closer distances, which also improves aerodynamics and reduces fuel use on both vehicles.

Peloton’s Cloud-based Network Operations Center continuously monitors individual truck safety and approves the linking of pairs of trucks only on suitable roads under appropriate weather, vehicle and traffic conditions. Drivers retain steering control and command of their vehicles at all times. The Peloton System integrates best-in-class active safety systems with cloud-based monitoring, making individual trucks safer at all times and delivering a rapid ROI to fleets via fuel efficiency.

In 2013, Peloton began demonstrating its Truck Platooning System with fleets and other transportation stakeholders in the U.S., where the trucking industry is worth $682 billion annually. The system is proven to reduce fuel consumption by 10 percent for the rear truck and 4.5 percent for the front truck, based on industry-standard SAE J1321 Type II fuel economy testing conducted by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and trucking fleet C.R. England.

Peloton is developing a Platooning Network Operations Center (NOC), a cloud-based service that communicates with the trucks to approve and adjust platooning parameters based on location, road, and weather conditions. It also helps trucks find platooning partners and collects unprecedented data about the vehicle, the driver and the operating environment. Peloton is developing data products to improve safety and efficiency of drivers, vehicles and fleet routing and logistics. The System’s safety and analytics features are always active whether or not a truck is platooning or on its own.

“This combination of connected vehicles, advanced safety and analytics can revolutionize freight transport,” says Ralph Eschenbach, Peloton board member and former chief technology officer of Trimble Navigation. “It’s remarkable to recognize how far location-based services have come since I started working on early GPS applications in 1976.”

“As one of the largest global automotive suppliers and a leader in camera technology and driver assistance systems, we are proud to partner with the Peloton team to assist them in advancing safety and efficiency in the trucking industry,” said Swamy Kotagiri, Chief Technology Officer, Magna International.

“We are excited to be working with this strategic group of investors,” said Peloton CEO Josh Switkes. “Together, we make an outstanding team that combines world-class vehicle engineering, Silicon Valley expertise in the cloud and connectivity, and the support of global business leaders in transportation and technology.”

“The societal demand for reduced traffic congestion, as well as improved safety on our nation’s highways, will continue to drive the need for innovative advanced technologies, such as platooning,” said Stephen Roy, president of Mack Trucks North America. “Mack has had a longstanding commitment to maximizing the efficient transportation of freight, reducing the environmental footprint through alternative-fuel vehicles and the purposeful integration of technology and people.”

“Volvo Trucks has long been a leader in offering advanced technology to our customers, and we were the first OEM to lead a platoon,” said Gӧran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “We look forward to working with Peloton Technology as they work on a platooning solution that will improve safety and fuel efficiency, while also combating the costs associated with congestion.”