Peloton Technology knows the importance of software system safety. It’s deploying advanced vehicle-to-vehicle communication and control technologies to platoon one truck behind another at a constant distance of around 20 meters, without relying on the rear truck driver’s reaction times to avert collisions if the front truck needs to brake suddenly or an overtaking vehicle cuts in.
The benefit of platooning is simple: slipstreaming one truck behind another reduces both truck’s fuel consumption by a combined figure of around 7%. For a trucking industry that spends upwards of 80 billion dollars a year on fuel in the US alone, that amounts to spectacular savings. But as Peloton’s VP of Marketing Rod McLane points out, when it comes to market acceptance, it all starts with safety.
Peloton’s technology doesn’t equate to autonomous driving, because both truck drivers remain in full control of their vehicle’s steering. Instead, it taps into the front truck’s engine ECU (Electronic Control Unit) and braking ECU, and relays relevant commands via a dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) channel to the rear truck’s engine and braking ECUs. Combined with the trucks’ forward-facing radars, this allow automatic platooning at the required separation distances. The DSRC also includes a video channel so that the rear driver can see what the front driver sees, and an encrypted audio channel so that the two truck drivers can talk to one another.
To ensure functional safety, the Peloton system includes a dedicated Hercules Arm Cortex-R MCU, which monitors all safety-critical communications and commands. It’s here that Peloton has enlisted Solid Sands’ SuperTest compiler test and validation suite to ensure that software development and implementation of the MCU’s embedded code meets the internationally recognized ISO 26262 functional safety standard for road vehicles.