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Self-driving trucks tested in Japan, form a close-knit convoy for fuel savings

Discussion in 'Drivers lounge' started by Flexin, Mar 2, 2013.

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Do you think it self-driving trucks would be a good idea in your area?

  1. Yes

    1 vote(s)
    12.5%
  2. No

    4 vote(s)
    50.0%
  3. Depends

    3 vote(s)
    37.5%
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  1. Flexin

    Flexin Admin Staff Member Founding Member Top Event

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    Self-driving trucks tested in Japan, form a close-knit convoy for fuel savings

    By Carl Franzen on February 27, 2013 07:50 pm Email @carlfranzen 31Comments
    Don't miss any stories Follow The Verge

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    As Google and others ramp up their plans to develop self-driving cars, one government-funded corporation in Japan is already making headway with autonomous heavy duty trucks. In order to save fuel, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)has programmed a convoy of four trucks to drive just four meters (about 13 feet) apart. That cuts down on air resistance, reducing drag (and thus improving fuel efficiency) similar to drafting with a race car.

    Read the rest of the story as well as watch two videos here http://www.theverge.com/2013/2/27/4037568/self-driving-trucks-tested-in-japan

    James
     
  2. Flexin

    Flexin Admin Staff Member Founding Member Top Event

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    This is interesting but on my local highways I think it would slow things down. Cars are always cutting in front of my truck, and too close I might add. So this would cause them to slow down repeatedly. This would slow up traffic. At night this might be an option.

    James
     
  3. sidney

    sidney Active Member Founding Member Top Thread

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    Yes, I agree, I can't imagine seeing a convoy of trucks with lots of spaces behind each other during rush hour. That's quite impractical. This setup can only be applicable during night time and in the wee hours of the morning.
     
  4. Flexin

    Flexin Admin Staff Member Founding Member Top Event

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    They do say they can get them down to 13 ft which is really tight. The big issue I see early on is that everyone wants to pass the trucks. Everyone is in a hurry. So with someone trying to pass a truck only to see a wall of trucks can cause problems.

    I wonder if they need make any changes to the cooling systems? A 13 ft gap is great for drafting which cuts down wind resistance and saves fuel. But that also cuts down air flow to the rad.

    James
     
  5. Fitness

    Fitness Member

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    I think it is a good idea and I don't think that it will be as big of a problem with people "cutting off" the trucks as you might think. The big thing would be to make sure there is enough information to let people know the trucks are automated. Maybe even have a highly visible bar or something to stop people from doing it. Like the arm on front of school buses. I don't think I have ever cut off a semi before, but I do see it all the time. If something like this was implemented and stricter enforcement of traffic laws might be needed. I have seen some people pulled over for cutting off other trucks and cars, but very very rarely.
    James since the truck engines are not working as hard would that compensate for the reduced air flow to the radiator?
     
  6. R. Paradon

    R. Paradon Active Member Founding Member

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    I am against the concept for two reason. The first being loss of more jobs and the second is that I imagine that a good hacker could program them to his own warehouse, empty and the send them back on their route.
     
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  7. Flexin

    Flexin Admin Staff Member Founding Member Top Event

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    I drive truck and was cut off twice today. It happens way too often.

    They wouldn't even have to cut them off. If you watch the video from the link (video below) you will see them driving at about 6-7 car lengths apart. When the van pulls in between them, they slow down to maintain a safe distance between then and the vehicle that pulled in front of them. They did this at a distance of about 5 car lengths. I have people pulling in front of me at closer distances in my work truck daily. This would cause traffic to be tied up because of the slower moving trucks. As they slow down another car can pull in. That will be enough to make more people to want to pass. If they pull in close as well the trucks will not be getting anywhere fast.

    Another reason I don't see this being used during the day (at least in Canada) is those are straight trucks. Those look to be just over 30 ft long. A convoy of 4 running at 13 ft apart is still around 160 ft. I can't see the DOT allowing this during the day. At night yes. And if they were semi's hauling 53' with day cabs you would have a wall about 300 ft long. I think there could be complaints about that.

    As far as traffic laws go, they could have a dash mounted camera to catch people causing problems if the wanted.

    I guess it would depend on the temperature, hills, and weight of the load. With a lot of hill climbs the trucks would be working hard. And in the middle of the summer down south could be an issue. Winter might be ok. I guess they could (might be already) to back off if the temps start to climb. No i want to know the answer to this. LOL. I would love to know the difference between the coolant temps for the lead truck compared to the trucks following.

    James
     
  8. Flexin

    Flexin Admin Staff Member Founding Member Top Event

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    They claim that it won't take jobs. Without a lot of sensors I can't see them being able to back into docks. This could be a safety issue. But they could just have then stand by with they enter the yard and have a shunt truck driver park them in the dock. If that was the case then it could/would cost some jobs.

    To hack into them you also have to be able to shut off any tracking devices or you are leading the police right to you. I don't think this would be any worse then regular trailer theft. I think it would be easier to take regular trailers that are not using tracking devices. Too much risk with the automated ones. You would also have to have it to stop transmitting video steams which I'm sure they would have. I'm not saying its impossible, just don't think it is that much of a risk to worry about it. They could still have someone on board the trucks for different dutys as well so that would limit some theft as well.

    James
     
  9. Fitness

    Fitness Member

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    Hi R. Paradon,
    I'm not sure about the job thing. It might hurt, but I know I'm always seeing ads looking for truck drivers here in the U.S. so I am guessing there is a shortage of drivers as it is? I know it wouldn't help the truck drivers, but other jobs would be created. Like manufacturing and programing jobs. Also increased jobs in a command center to monitor and watch the trucks.

    As for hacking into to. I doubt it would that easy. Think about it. We fly drones wireless that have heavy armaments and they don't get hacked regularly. Anything is possible, but I agree with James, I don't see it more of a problem then regular trailer theft. Plus I know a lot of fleets are tracked by GPS now. So if a truck were to veer off route the command center would be notified and they could call the police to track it down quickly.
     
  10. mudrock

    mudrock Member

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    Before I clicked on this thread, I imagined this was going to be about normal size pickup type trucks. I would feel a little weird while passing a self driving truck. I don't know if I would agree with the idea of this cutting jobs because I think the driver would still need to be in the vehicle as a passenger for the delivery of what needs to be delivered.
     
  11. R. Paradon

    R. Paradon Active Member Founding Member

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    @ Flexin and Fitness (sorry I don't know how to multi reply)

    Both of you make valid arguments. I will be the first to admit that some of my thoughts are still in the "dark ages" of my youth! :banghead: I remember when Windows first appeared and I could not think of a more stupid idea! I loved C dos! Now I could not even think of making batch files, *.* and so many other procedures!

    Time marches on, but some of us old timers have reverted to crawling! ;)
     
  12. riku517

    riku517 Member

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    This would cause so many problems with the impatience drivers in my city. However, it is nice to see the progress many companies are making to save energy and fuel.
     
  13. titohunter

    titohunter Member

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    What in the world? Are they going to be just on the road with no one in them like a programmed missile or will they have a driver and just be on auto pilot. I'm not for anything that's going to make people lose their jobs.
     
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