October 27, 2020 News Release

PennDOT, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Support Automated Truck Platooning Demonstration

Smart Belt Coalition to Evaluate Lessons Learned

Pittsburgh, PA – The Smart Belt Coalition (SBC), a collaboration between transportation agencies, including the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), as well as educational institutions in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio, conducted an automated truck platooning demonstration 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 the Forgotten Harvest Food Bank in Detroit.

Truck platooning is the linking of two or more trucks in convoy using connectivity 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 travelled from Pittsburgh, through Ohio, to Michigan.

“As a state that has always been at the forefront of innovation and industry, it should be no surprise that Pennsylvania is an epicenter for automated vehicle research and development, said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “As stewards of transportation safety and mobility in Pennsylvania, PennDOT has a critical role in helping to ensure that this new technology is developed and tested safely.”

“Many amazing things are happening in the automated vehicle space and truck platooning is an example of that,” said PA Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton. “However, we seek to be strategic about these developments and above all – safe. The Smart Belt Coalition is a coordinated effort which crosses state lines and makes it possible for us to be engaged in tech-enabled business and transportation trends. Working together, we will be able to more effectively advance these emerging technologies for all motorists.”

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.. This effort will result in a “lessons learned” document on the steps needed to facilitate a truck platooning and automated driving system operation across jurisdictional boundaries.

More on automated vehicle testing in Pennsylvania can be found on PennDOT’s website here.

Jan Huzvar, PennDOT, 717-409-3840 or jhuzvar@pa.gov
Rosanne Placey, PTC, 717-675-4362 or rplacey@paturnpike.com