Connected and Automated Vehicles

​​Freight and Trucking

Automated technology in trucks like Automated Driving S​ystems (ADS) and platooning technology may have a significant impact on the future or truck-bound freight efficiencies and safety.

ADS in trucks

Truck ADS are being tested in several states. ADS used in trucking may impact hours of service practices by allowing a driver to sleep and may impact driver shortages. Some companies are using these systems to serve local “milk runs” close to distribution hubs. Others are testing a​ first mile/last mile concept of operations where a driver loads and unloads a truck in difficult city applications and then releases the truck to finish the long-distance drive by itself.

Several cross-country test runs with safety drivers have been made with limited driver intervention needed.

Platooningplatooning semis on highway

Platooning is a specific vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) connected technology that allows vehicles to coordinate braking, acceleration and eventually steering. As technology advances, platooning will allow the lead vehicle to control navigation as well. It is important to remember that in Wisconsin each vehicle must have a driver at this time.

Currently, truck platooning is rare in Wisconsin. A 2017 law made platooning legal in Wisconsin by changing the following-distance requirements for commercial motor vehicles.

Generally, there are no outward indicators on commercial motor vehicles that have platooning technology or Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control engaged, although some trucks might be marked with a sign or a light.

Platooning facts

  • Platooning is legal in the state of Wisconsin with a driver in the driver’s seat of each vehicle
  • Platooning vehicles may travel very closely together
  • Platooning vehicles are not visibly marked
  • Platooning vehicles always communicate with each other
  • If a car or motorcycle slips between two platooning vehicles, the platooning vehicles adjust their distance until the car or motorcycle moves on.
  • Passenger car platooning is also legal in Wisconsin but is not available on production cars at this time

Freight-related resources

U.S. Department of Transportation platooning demonstration

Regional Regulatory Approach to Truck Platooning in the MAASTO Region

Photo source: U.S. Department of Transportation​​