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Can Bridges Handle Weight of Platooning Trucks?

The average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 67 years old - too old for new technology?

January 09, 2018

Consider this: ARTBA reported in February 2017 that nearly 56,000 of the nation's bridges are rated 'Structurally Deficient.  How will platooning truck trains affect those already structurally stressed bridges?

Truck platooning differs from a truck convoy in that the platoon uses AI to connect two or more autonomous vehicles within an approximate following distance of 30 feet.

Researchers and engineers attending the recent National Academies of Sciences’ annual Transportation Research Board conference in Washington, D.C. said platooning is expected to be one of the first applications of autonomous vehicles and that just the relatively close distance that must be maintained between the vehicles in order to stay connected means a greater amount of weight concentrated on smaller-than-usual portions of the road.

That aspect must undergo intense research, they said, citing damage to bridges in particular.

Richard Dunne, director of structures at Michael Baker International, asked, "How do loads impact the physical plant? The deck, beams, joints, pavement are stressed by heavy vehicles moving closer and closer together.”

Michigan's DOT has been very proactive in automated vehicle research and has partnered with Peloton Technology for some possible solutions. Read more in Lorrie Grant's article Can Bridges Handle Weight of Platooning Trucks? Engineering Firm Wants to Know.

image: Peloton

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