The German national project KONVOI focused from 2005 to 2009 on the topic platoons of heavy trucks, in which vehicles follow a lead truck fully automatically with small gaps to improve aerodynamics. At the same time the small gaps and a digital transmission of driving parameter via V2V communication enable a reduction of needed road area and an improvement of traffic flow. Since the European projects PROMOTE CHAUFFEUR I + II were the first research projects in the EU with this topic and these focused mainly on the technical feasibility, the project KONVOI studied the impact (driver acceptance, traffic flow and environment) as well as the legal and economic implication of platoons.
For that reason a platoon of four heavy trucks of the brands MAN and IVECO, which drove with gaps of 10 m, were developed and successfully tested in real traffic in 2009. Overall the platoon was operated for 3100 km in real traffic. Thereby the KONVOI system was the first platoon system worldwide, which was tested in real traffic. The trucks were equipped with a V2V and V2I communication system, a mono camera as well as lidar and radar sensors. On the basis of the real traffic drives it could be shown, that a safe operation of platoons is possible.
Next to the KONVOI project the ika was also partner of the platooning project SARTRE and could due to both projects acquire a wide knowledge in this topic. In the KONVOI project the ika was mainly responsible for the technical implementation and operation as well as the operating strategies. In the following SARTRE project the ika developed a back-end for an external coordination of platoons, interfaces between the HMI, back-end and vehicles as well as conducted traffic flow simulations with the software PELOPS, which was developed from ika in cooperation with BMW. Two of the four KONVOI trucks are still in use at ika.