OK, don't actually tailgate. It doesn't generally save gas unless you're a NASCAR driver. The idea, of course, is that drafting reduces your coefficient of drag. However, in highway circumstances, you'll likely have to accelerate and brake so frequently that any savings would be lost. And then, there's the chance of a crash, and totaling a car was never good for the environment.
HOWEVER! That doesn't change that drafting could save fuel. The trick is, handing control over to your car. According to a couple of engineers at Jadavpur University, caravans or "platoons" of vehicles traveling less than a meter apart can significantly reduce the coefficient of drag for all but the first vehicle.
Theoretically, the cars could intercommunicate, telling each other when to speed up and slow down based on the actions of the lead driver. The other cars in the platoon would then simply be on auto-pilot, with sensors always on the lookout for possible collisions.
Sound scary to you? Yeah...me too. For now I think I'll stick with saving gas by, y'know, not driving as much.
written by Ryan Baker, July 17, 2007
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