Draft Fees

Yes, that’s “draft fees,” not overdraft fees.  As covered in a previous post, Drafting is the close following of one vehicle to another.  If you are the one following, you get most of the benefit.  I anticipate that early adaptors may be happy to allow some to “ride along.” This will be because they’ll hope to be following in the correct overall proportions.  They will not want to do anything to discourage the adoption of autonomy, as a critical mass may be necessary for some of the benefits to take effect.

However, any car that ends up following a disproportionate amount of the time will be a leach.  In order to reduce this activity, it would seem reasonable to determine the amount of savings that following cars get, and forwarding that fuel savings cost on to the lead driver.  One way may be to impose or offer some sort of financial compensation for being the lead car.

While the concept is pretty straightforward, there are a number of technologies that must be in place first.  First and foremost is actual platooning.  Included in that would probably be the communications from one car to another.  Third would be the calculation algorithm to determine the difference between drafting and leading.  There would then need to be some way for that energy savings to be converted into money, and then transferred from one account to another.

Of these, the most difficult would be the algorithm.  It would be fairly easy for a car to have a look-up table to compare with a similar car.  If, on the other hand, it is compared to a different car, the values will be different.  If a small car drafts behind a big car, it will see a bigger % savings on its MPG than if the big car is behind a little one.  If you have a big, but light, efficient vehicle and a little, but somehow inefficient vehicle to compare you have even more difficulties.  When you take into account that different cars will have different optimal speeds, creating an accurate algorithm becomes very complicated indeed.

As a final note, I’d like to add that, of all things I foresee, this is one I’m least sure of.  It is fraught with many problems, including data security.  It is an idea that I do think will be explored, if not implemented.


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