26 February 2013

Japan Tests Out Self-Driving Trucks

Companies such as Google and Audi have been testing out self-driving cars and are working on making automated chauffeurs possible.

Taking this concept to the industrial sector, Japan company New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) have successfully started testing out self-driving trucks—in hope to eventually reduce fuel consumption in large vehicles.

With robot-trucks, shorter distances could be kept between vehicles—thus contributing to lower air resistance, reducing fuel consumption by 15%, and increasing efficiency of shipping in the future.

In NEDO’s facility in Tsukuba City, north Tokyo, four trucks were tested to drive in a line over a 3-kilometer course at a speed of 80km/h—with the lead truck driven by a human, followed by autonomous trucks following closely at 4-meters distance each.

With the assistance of roof-mounted cameras and radars, and the operating system called ‘Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control’, the robot-trucks could avoid obstacles on the course.

Currently, legal and psychological barriers need to be overcome before these driverless vehicles can hit the road.

[via NHK, image via NEDO]