Are self-driving trucks destined to be a permanent highway fixture? It appears that may be the case in Japan and the U.K. These convoys are driven by the first truck in the line and the others follow.
Last week, a convoy of self-driving trucks hit the road in Japan.
New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), a Japanese government-funded program, put four self-driven trucks on the road. The trucks were driven in a convoy, with each truck being kept 13 feet apart and traveling at 50 mph.
The first truck is the leader and the others are programed to follow.
The program was developed to help promote fuel-efficiency. Keeping the trucks in a straight line helps reduce drag. According to NEDO, they’re seen a 15% increase in fuel-efficiency.
The trucks are equipped with cameras and infrared laser radars to help identify obstacles around them. The lasers also help the trucks stay within the painted lines on the road.
According to NEDO, the trucks should be available for commercial use by 2020.
Over the summer, Volvo and Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTE) put the first-ever self-drivin road train of trucks and cars on the highway in Barcelona, Spain. The convoy traveled 125 miles.