Every year the amount of vehicles in traffic keeps increasing which enlarges the ecological footprint of this sector. There are several methods to decrease this footprint. First there can still be further investigations and improvements on the cars itself. On the other hand some declare that there can be a lot improvements when we could change the way people drive. One method is ecologic driving, but maybe a more efficient way is the concept of platoon of convoy driving.
The principle of this concept is quite simple and is already visible in several other domains, for example in cycling. When there is a large headwind you won’t see the riders ride side by side.
Every rider would encounter the same large headwind which isn’t economical, for this reason they form a long line were the ride one behind the other.
But also in nature this concept is applied. Migratory birds which travel every year to hibernate in a warmer climate fly in a special V-structure to reduce the drag and thereby provides the birds with a more economical flight. For this reason the chance that young birds will survive the trip is greatly increased.
This concept could be transferred to cars especially when driving on highroads (Fig 1).
When driving at a speed of 80 km/h with an inter vehicle spacing of 40 m a drag reduction of 20% is already realized for the second vehicle, the third vehicle got a reduction of 30%. These are numbers for a large inter vehicle spacing, results are even better when inter vehicle space is lower.
The question now arises how to organize such a system? To achieve the highest reduction of drag and fuel consumption cars should drive close together at a fixed position achieved with driving at a constant speed. For human drivers this is quite a difficult job because it isn’t always that simple to interact fast on different manoeuvres of the vehicle ahead. Thereby the question arises if autonomic driving could be a solution? If cars could interact which each other and receive information of each other they could adjust easily on changes of surrounding vehicles. People could just set their destination and the car would drive to this location as economical as possible eventually with the aid of platoon or convoy driving. Is this the view we should see in the future?
Do you think this concept will be applied in the future with the aid of autonomic driving?