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modular wireless transportation system

an open standard for cars to link up into short "trains" for long highway drives
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(+2, -3)
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I propose an open standard for different manufacturers to develop and follow that would allow future cars to be able to physically link together and form short train-like formations. The lead car in the linked unit would override steering, braking and throttle control for all of the other units. This technology would incorporate wireless for human communications between vehichles as well as hard wired connections between vehicles to link their engine throttle control and braking at the point of physical attachment between cars. (This might work in a standard-transmission vehicle, but likely these vehicles will be electrically powered and won't really require a transmission in the way a current automobile does.)

The application here is for small groups of cars with the same destination that is many miles of interstate away. Also, this could be used in large cities to help defeat the braking waves in traffic patterns. These would definitely need a special lane like HOV in major california cities. For large city use, embedded controllers in the highway itself could link and steer cars with the same destination as well as detaching individual cars for exit for those willing to participate in such a program.

everyshoefits, Jul 14 2004

Collaborative Driving System http://www.auto21.c...ems_1driving_e.html
HTML summary leading to londer PDF article. From auto21.ca. [st3f, Oct 21 2004]

Collaborative Driving System Using Teamwork for Platoon Formations http://www.damas.if...AS-ATT04-sHalle.pdf
PDF from Université Laval. [st3f, Oct 21 2004]


       I believe that collaborative driving has been a topic of research since at least the 1980s, possibly much earlier. What are you proposing that won't have been looked into by university departments and motor companies over the last 20 or more years?
st3f, Jul 19 2004

       Theoretically this could also lead to decreased pollution. as each vehicles engine would not need to be on if it was being pulled by another.
SeltzerH02, Apr 22 2007

       Earlier being at least 1962. Cover story on Popular Science. (In this month's retrospective)
Galbinus_Caeli, Apr 22 2007

       I like the idea (baked or not). However, I don't think regular drivers would use it.   

       I'm bombing along the M6, when some guy in front invites me to join his convoy. I've never seen him before in my life. I'm going to put my life (and that of my family) in his hands? I think I'd rather not, to be honest.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 22 2007

       Why not just take the train?
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Apr 22 2007

       Not a bad idea, but every cheapskate in town is going to hook up to you so they don't have to pay to charge/fuel their vehicle. Cynical - slightly. Likely - definite.
Hairy Sock, Apr 23 2007

       It's not only the fact that some engines might be turned off that reduces fuel consumption/CO2 emissions; it's also the fact that less energy is being used anyway because each following vehicle is slipstreaming the one in front. You can do that anyway - but not safely.   

       It's not actually necessary for the vehicles to be mechanically linked to gain most of the benefits (all except the possibility of turning off some of the engines), as long as all the vehicles are well maintained. It's only drivers' slow reactions (even the fastest reacting human has reaction times of 50ms or more) that make it unsafe for vehicles to travel within inches of each other - as long as they don't malfunction. All communication can be wireless.   

       It's perfectly possible to maintain vehicles to a standard that they're less likely to malfunction than humans, and to design them to be able to cope with malfunctions in other vehicles at least as well as humans can.
Cosh i Pi, Apr 23 2007

       I saw an item on Tomorrow's World years ago that had a line of cars driving at high speed down a motorway with about a foot of space between each one. They were all controlled by on-board computers linked up with sensors to detect the exact position of the car in front and the car behind. It could even detect corners in the road and keep the car moving steadily at high speed. Rather than cutting emissions, the purpose was to cut down on traffic jams.   

       This idea wouldn't cut down on emissions that much since the one engine at the front would need to work that much harder to pull the other cars, would it not?
theleopard, Apr 23 2007

       [theleopard] It's very hard to predict the exact effect on the fuel consumption of each vehicle. It would depend on the speed, the shapes of the various vehicles, and the wind speed and direction - possibly also whether there was much rain in the wind.   

       But it's a safe bet that the overall effect would be a significant reduction in fuel consumption - probably on the order of 30 or 40% in most conditions, possibly more.
Cosh i Pi, Apr 23 2007

       What everyone's said so far, plus: I'm not sure I'd want the added responsibility of being the lead driver.   

       Although I approve the sentiment, I'm not bunning this idea because the way it's set out would imply that car manufacturers would have to put larger engines in their cars to cope with the potential loads of pulling an entire car-train, which would almost certainly lead to an overall increase in emissions when these cars are used normally.
moomintroll, Apr 23 2007

       [moomintroll] No, the following car engines wouldn't necessarily be turned off - not all of them, anyway.
Cosh i Pi, Apr 23 2007

       Who said anything about the first engine taking over the whole load? I thought [everyshefits] was saying something about control rather than traction power. Speed, Break, and Steering control. However, I do not like the idea of something from outside my car controlling my car either. I would like a collaborating communications standard based on which every computer inside a car could make decisions though. This would imply prioritizing. Ahmmm... how does "highest priority for the computer controlling the most powerful car" sound?
sweet, Apr 23 2007


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