Japan group tests fuel-saving driverless trucks

Mar 04, 2013 by Nancy Owano report

(Phys.org) —Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) has tested a caravan of self driving trucks. They put four trucks on the road, with the first truck driven by a human, followed by three autonomous trucks. The caravan successfully used technologies for steering, for maintaining speed, and for staying in formation, at a speed of 80km/h with a four-meter distance between each truck.

The February 2013 test run is part of a project that was started in 2008 by NEDO. The key goal of NEDO's truck exercise has been to see what can be accomplished in . They reported that drag decreased by keeping the trucks in a straight line and four meters apart. They said that running convoys of trucks in this manner could contribute to lower , helping to reduce by 15 percent or more.

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As for technologies involved in the run, the self-driving vehicles had to be able to detect obstacles in front of them, "see" white lines, and carry out inter-vehicle communications; also included was the unit that controlled the vehicles running in formation. According to reports, a milliwave radar and radars were used to detect obstacles. Cameras and infrared laser radars helped the trucks recognize white lines. A wireless communication module and infrared communications module enabled inter-vehicle communication. Two printed-circuit boards were used for the control unit to maintain formation.

The NEDO self-driving trucks will not be part of Japan's transportation system any time soon. NEDO hopes to have a practical version of this automated driving system ready around 2020. More tests are scheduled for later this year.

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NEDO was established as a semi-governmental organization in 1980 to promote . The group is described on its website as Japan's largest public research and development management organization. The NEDO project has a number of participants that include Hino Motors, Mitsubishi Electric, Oki Electric Industry, NEC, Denso, the University of Tokyo and Nihon University.

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More information: e.nikkei.com/e/fr/tnks/Nni20130225D25JSN01.htm
www.houseofjapan.com/electronics/nedo-demos-autonomous-driving-of-4-trucks-in-formation

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User comments : 3

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hemitite
4 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2013
Will they be liable to pick up computer viruses at truck stops?
dschlink
not rated yet Mar 04, 2013
The interval is much more than 4 meters. It's hard to imagine how they would deal with lane changes in heavy traffic.
hemitite
4 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2013
dschlink,

Just like many other trucks it will merge through intimidation.

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