Autonomous Cars Video: Self-Driving Japanese Trucks Huddle Close For Fuel Savings

Published on March 4th, 2013 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Video: Self-Driving Japanese Trucks Huddle Close For Fuel Savings

self-driving-truckSince the invention of the so-called “automobile”, self-driving cars have never strayed far from the imagination of human beings. We finally appear to be on the cusp of seeing real progress in the world of autonomous vehicles, and as this next video of self-driving Japanese box trucks shows, the implications for both businesses and the environment are huge.

Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) has built a working prototype of self-driving truck technology. One human controller can lead three other robot-driven trucks, each one just 13 feet from the other. This allows the trucks to benefit from reduced air resistance, called “drafting” in the racing world, and can reduce fuel costs by as much as 15%.

Less fuel burned is good for the environment, and the close proximity of one truck to the other could help reduce traffic congestion as well. For businesses though, having to only pay one human driver, instead of four, could result in huge cost savings…though it does raise the ethical question of robots replacing human workers. This technology means three honest, good-paying jobs will no longer exist.

Even scarier, the NEDO system can even operate entirely autonomously, without the need of any human driver whatsoever. Other companies, like Google and Volvo, are pursuing self-driving cars for daily life, but businesses stand to benefit far more than the average consumer.

In a perfect world, robots would do all our chores while human beings pursued a life of leisure and culture. This writer thinks reality will be a lot uglier than that though.

Share your thoughts of self-driving cars below.

Source: The Verge




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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • Joe Swain

    Brilliant. What they should do now is build special routes just for these closely coupled driverless vehicles, so they can do the major parts of their journeys with priority over other traffic.

    They could even maybe think of a way of ‘fixing’ all the closely coupled vehicles to these special roads – I don’t know, I’m brainstorming here, but how about a pair of metal rails specially made to fit the trucks’ wheels?

    And how about electrifying those rails to allow the vehicles to travel faster and more cleanly?

    You’d probably need maybe one driver at the front of the convoy to keep an eye on things. He should wear a peaked cap so everyone can see him clearly and he should be allowed a nice loud whistle type thing to warn people that he’s coming through.

    And let’s just assume he’s got a fairly common name like, say, Jones, Casey Jones perhaps, they could help the branding exercise with a catchy little song about how he’s always on time and when you hear the tooting’ of his whistle people will always know it’s “Casey at the throttle of his…scratching around here but how about…Cannonball Express?”

    Whatever will they think of next? Wind powered ships?

  • David Hannon

    Software and robotics advances scare the life out of me, as I’m training to be a doctor and I know they’re coming my way too, so I might be guilty of always looking for the negative, but wouldn’t these trucks be extremely easy to steal? They’ll obviously have some sort of protocol to ensure they don’t hit humans, so wouldn’t it be easy to just stop them and then take a bunch of time cutting them open or whatever?

  • http://twitter.com/JoFergs Jo Fergus

    The SARTRE system promises this sort of efficiency for passenger cars as well…

    http://environauts.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/automated-automobiles/

    Will the future ever arrive?

     ;-)

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