Electric vehicles are paving the way for the future of transport but it seems that electricity is not going to solve the problem of low-cost transportation alone. Soon we will have to take the help of robots and virtual intelligence to best utilize what precious fuel we have left, and to further increase the efficiency of electric, zero-emissions cars. New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), with the help of government funding has conducted an experiment in an effort to increase the fuel efficiency of large cargo envoys. The organization has programmed 4 self driving trucks to drive just 13 feet apart.
The Science of Fuel Efficiency
The organization’s efforts are in a bid to increase the aero-dynamics of these large trucks for better fuel-efficiency. The self driving trucks are controlled electronically through a computer program and will drive just 13 feet apart. Because of this small distance the self driving trucks will face much reduced wind resistance (drag) which causes lower fuel efficiency. NEDO says that this will account for a 15 percent improvement in fuel economy. That might not seem like much but with thousands of trucks on long routes, it adds up.
Are Autonomous Vehicles the Future?
We always take the idea of autonomous and fully automated transport with a pinch of salt. Sure the idea of self-driving vehicles relieving us from the stress of driving feels great, but are people ready for it? A routine commute that is often very frustrating is the school run. The idea of a car driving the kids to school on its own should be good in theory then. But really, in reality there would be very few parents who’d trust a computer-driven car with their precious children. So atleast for mass public adoption, autonomous cars still have a long way to go.
An autonomous taxi vehicle would prove to be extremely popular for inter-city street commuting. Yes, some jobs will be cut but the customers will benefit with a computer mind controlling the taxi. The taxi will automatically choose the most efficient route with clever route-planning and because of integration of all traffic system statuses, they will likely consume lesser fuel and will take the customer to the destination faster.
But it is in industrial field work and military purposes that the advantages of autonomous vehicles start becoming apparent. Self-driving excavators and military supply trucks are already being successfully tested. Autonomous vehicles like self driving trucks will not only increase efficiency of a task but may also save human lives in these scenarios. The public might not accept self driving trucks just yet but in the future expect autonomous vehicles to be common place.