The current system of global trade is largely based on transportation and communication technology from the 20th century. Advances in technology have led to an increasingly interconnected global market and reduced the costs of moving goods, people, and technology around the world . Transportation is crucial to society, and the demand for transportation is strongly linked to economic development. Specifically, road transportation is essential since about 60% of all surface freight transportation (which includes road and rail transport) is done on roads . Despite the important role of road freight transportation in the economy, it is facing serious challenges, such as those posed by increasing fuel prices and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, the integration of information and communication technologies to transportation systems-leading to intelligent transportation systems-enables the development of cooperative methods to enhance the safety and energy efficiency of transportation networks. This article focuses on one such cooperative approach, which is known as platooning. The formation of a group of heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) at close intervehicular distances, known as a platoon (see Figure 1) increases the fuel efficiency of the group by reducing the overall air drag. The safe operation of such platoons requires the automatic control of the velocity of the platoon vehicles as well as their intervehicular distance. Existing work on platooning has focused on the design of controllers for these longitudinal dynamics, in which simple vehicle models are typically exploited and perfect environmental conditions, such as flat roads, are generally assumed. The broader perspective of how platooning can be effectively exploited in a freight transportation system has received less attention. Moreover, experimental validations of the fuel-saving potential offered by platooning have typically been performed by reproducing the perfect conditions as assumed in the design of the automatic controllers. This article focuses on these two aspects by addressing the following two objectives.
2015. Vol. 35, no 6, 34-56 p.