Communications · driver-less · Programming · Vehicle Design

Platooning

Platooning is the “ganging” of cars together for a leg, legs, or entirety of a journey.  There are several reasons why a platoon of cars my be formed.

  • Drafting:  I first because interested in autonomous cars when I realized that cars would save fuel if they could safely draft with one another.  I’ll cover this in more detail in another post, and I will just note here that drafting is when a vehicle follows closely enough to a leading vehicle that it is able to save energy by not needing to cut through the air. If you must know more, here’s wiki.
  • Road space optimization:  A platoon of 4 or 5 autonomous cars may take less space than two piloted cars.  This is because humans require a substantial amount of space to react and slow down in the event of an unexpected issue.
  • Human Segregation: I only see this being useful during the next couple years, before autonomous cars become ubiquitous.  By “segregation,” I mean that I anticipate that  it may be required to separate vehicles that are not acting like they have a human driver and the “normal” cars.
  • Directions: It may be that there will be some locations that autonomous cars may not be driven to under normal conditions.  There are a wide variety of reasons for this.

One of the things I envision about transportation in the future is that we will have our cars a lot closer together in the future.  While this happens in bumper to bumper traffic now, in the future most transportation is likely to occur within a few feet of each other, even when traveling quite quickly.  I don’t have a strong vision for whether or not strangers’ cars are likely to meet up and allow for conversation.  Based on the rarity of spontaneous conversations in regular public transportation, I suspect that occupants of autonomous cars will only interact if they are otherwise acquainted.

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