The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) tested the automated system on a track in Tsukuba, Japan, using a convoy of three large trucks and a small one. The trucks successfully used technologies for steering, for maintaining speed, and for staying in formation, at a speed of 50 miles per hour with a four-meter distance between each truck.
According to reports, milliwave radar and infrared laser radars were used to detect obstacles. Cameras and infrared laser radars helped the trucks recognize white lines. A wireless communication and infrared communications module enabled inter-vehicle communication. Two printed-circuit boards were used for the control unit to maintain formation.
Using these technologies, the convoy was capable of running at speeds of 50 miles per hour while maintaining a distance of only 4 meters between the vehicles. And if the truck in front were to suddenly brake, that information would be transmitted to the trailing vehicle in a mere 20 milliseconds, ensuring that the 4-meter gap would allow enough time to avoid a collision.
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 fuel efficiency.
NEDO hopes to have a practical version of this automated driving system ready around 2020, contending that it will help reduce fuel consumption by 15% or better for trucks driving in convoys. More tests are scheduled later this year.