Ensia

“Linking” semi trucks can result in huge fuel savings

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Courtesy of Ensia

Over the past year one of the hottest tech trends has been the race to develop autonomous — or driverless — cars. The journal Nature even featured these vehicles on the cover in early February and quoted experts saying they could hit the road in less than a decade. But this rapid evolution in transportation isn’t limited to passenger vehicles.

Lead by companies such as Peloton, “linked” semi trucks are already being tested on America’s interstate highway system. The technology works by essentially connecting two trucks traveling in tandem via a high-powered, wireless signal and radar-based active braking systems. This connection allows the two trucks to travel closer than usual following distance and at the same speed without sacrificing safety, as seen below in the video from Peloton.

The upside? The lead semi reaps up to 5 percent in fuel savings due to reduced drag, while the back truck garners a 10 percent or greater reduction in fuel use by drafting, which as we’ve previously written about can be a huge expense. For an industry that accounts for 10 percent of U.S. oil use annually, this new technology could be a huge boon for the bottom line while helping reduce harmful emissions.

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