Coming soon to Pa. roads: Autonomous trains of semi trucks

When it comes to the robot vehicles of the future, it’s possible that semis will be self-driving before taxis.

State lawmakers have yet to agree on legislation governing the testing of self-driving vehicles but passed a bill in October that will allow for platooning of up to three automated buses, military vehicles or tractor-trailers on some highways and interstates starting this spring…

Platooning vehicles are more fuel-efficient, take up less space on the roads and can be safer, explained Philip Koopman, CTO & co-founder of Pittsburgh-based Edge Case Research and a professor at CMU.

To get benefits of efficiency and aerodynamics, the first platooning vehicle sends data — through wifi, cell phone, or radio connection — telling the second vehicle to brake when the first brakes, rather than a human driver hitting the brakes when they see tail lights.