MDOT joins neighboring states in automated truck platooning demonstration

Contact: Jeff Cranson, MDOT Director of Communications, 517-648-8247
Agency: Transportation

October 27, 2020 -- The Smart Belt Coalition (SBC), a collaboration between the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), transportation agencies in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and academic institutions in all three states, conducted an automated truck platooning demonstration Oct. 22 that began in Pittsburgh and ended in Michigan. The SBC partnered with Pittsburgh-based technology firm Locomation to complete the demonstration.

While performing the demonstration, the SBC coordinated food donations between the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank, and Forgotten Harvest in Detroit.

Truck platooning is the linking of two or more trucks in convoy using technology and automated driving support systems. These vehicles automatically maintain a set, close distance between each other when they are connected. Two automated and connected tractor trailers traveled from Pittsburgh, through Ohio, to Michigan.

Previous platooning demonstrations in Michigan highlighted a partnership between MDOT and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) (formerly known as the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC) in Warren.

"Michigan has been at the forefront of developing mobility technologies of the future, and this demonstration follows others completed here to foster more research focused on safer ways to move freight," said State Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba. "This furthers the culture of collaboration we've encouraged between private industry, government and academia to support research, testing and operations of automated vehicles."

The SBC and Locomation demonstrated the agency coordination and administrative and procedural requirements necessary for a truck platooning system to operate continuously through the three states.

More information is available on MDOT's website about the department's support for connected and automated vehicle testing in Michigan.

Formed in 2016, the SBC is a strategic transportation collaborative comprised of 12 organizations, including five transportation agencies and seven research and academic institutions, located throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The purpose of the SBC is to foster collaboration among multiple agencies and research affiliates from Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, involving research, testing, policy, standards development, deployments, outreach, and funding pursuits in the area of connected and automated vehicle technology, as well as other innovations in the transportation industry. 

SBC members include:

Agencies: MDOT; DriveOhio (through the Ohio Department of Transportation); the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission; the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

Research Affiliates: The American Center for Mobility; Kettering University; the University of Michigan; the Ohio State University; Transportation Research Center, Inc.; Carnegie Mellon University; and Pennsylvania State University.