Semi-Robotic Trucks May Help Save Fuel

Trucks are one of the key modes of transport across large distances for any business dealing in cargo. A new semi-robotic system was recently tested in Nevada with the results promising that it can significantly cut down fuel costs.


The logic behind fuel-saving in trucks is that if trucks travel together as a fleet, that reduces the drag on the body of the vehicles. As a result, lesser fuel is consumed. The fuel cuts that result with this method may not be much at a small distance but they are very significant over longer journeys.

However, a major problem with such a method is that trucks traveling close together is dangerous and can result in expensive accidents. Not only that, if they do not travel in a synchronized manner and have to brake often or drive at slow speeds in order to avoid bumping up against each other, that in turn rises costs.

The new technology being tested in Nevada has been developed by Peloton Tech and only partially automates the truck’s driving. In this new system, a human driver still occupies the main seat. However, a system making use of a radar and a wireless link keeps an eye on the speed and movement of the trucks. This robotic system then ensures that the trucks in a fleet travel at the same speed and brake at the same time so that no vehicle crashes into another.

It is important to note here that truck fleets who have to travel over longer distances end up spending a whopping 40% of the total operating costs on fuel. And this is where all the saving is to be had with better, more fuel-efficient trucks. Peloton claims that its technology ‘saves more than 7% [of fuel] at 65mph – 10% for the rear truck and 4.5% for the lead truck.’ The Nevada experiment confirms these claims and we may soon see the new technology implemented in truck fleets around U.S.

Source: PopSci

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Salman Latif is a software engineer with a specific interest in social media, big data and real-world solutions using the two.Other than that, he is a bit of a gypsy. He also writes in his own blog. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter .

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