Land Yachts -- Why don't cars and trucks also use sails?

  • Thread starter JLT
  • Start date
  • #1
JLT
43
3
Summary:
I was watching Land Yacht racing and wondering why cars, or at least semi-trucks do not use sails? or trains etc. As well as using sails for "wind power", you could also use air brakes, like for semi-trucks driving down hills in Colorado and their brakes often go out with runaway truck ramps etc. - Rather than grinding down brake pads, add "airbrakes" - like flaps on airplane wings?
Land Yacht racing has been around for awhile -
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_sailing
a few people still trying it out

The question, is has anyone seen ideas of sail-boating applied to semi-trucks, trains, even cars to improve energy efficiency?

Another application - has anyone seen air-drag used to slow down trains or semi-trucks? For airplanes, there are flaps on the wings that help slow it down - could the same idea be used for semi's and trains? I-70 in Colorado semi's often lose their brakes, have to use the runaway truck ramps etc. For a long hill, seems like it might be worth it to just throw out a parachute or use a sail to help keep the truck slowed down?

I've googled a bit, have not found examples of the above ideas - if anyone knows of places it has been used, or explains why it has not been used? Thanks!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
anorlunda
Staff Emeritus
Insights Author
9,329
6,352
The question, is has anyone seen ideas of sail-boating applied to semi-trucks, trains, even cars to improve energy efficiency?
There may be many reasons, but one is that most highway bridges allow only 14 feet clearance, and the trucks barely fit underneath as it is.

Another thing that sailors learn is that you can't go directly into the wind. and you shouldn't go directly away from the wind. Therefore, sailing doesn't work well on narrow rivers where you have no control of the direction. Ditto for land yachts on highways. There is not much room to tack in a 12 foot wide lane.
 
  • Like
Likes Astronuc, DaveE, russ_watters and 2 others
  • #3
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
26,809
10,468
why cars, or at least semi-trucks do not use sails?

1615253700161.png
 
  • Haha
  • Like
Likes Astronuc, DaveE, PhDeezNutz and 2 others
  • #5
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
26,809
10,468
Just seems like there is something that could be done with all that free energy:

Just seems like you have a solution in search of a problem.
 
  • #6
phinds
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
16,833
7,687
Haha - it could be retractable. Just seems like there is something that could be done with all that free energy:
And do you think that car and truck manufacturers have never thought of such a thing? You think maybe they DID think of it and had good reasons for rejecting it. I've seen several already just in this thread.
 
  • #7
Baluncore
Science Advisor
8,964
3,548
Traffic usually flows at a fixed speed. That is almost impossible to achieve with sails on a fixed course.

For a few months I experimented with a sail on my bicycle, but it did not get much use because I could usually ride faster than the wind, and half the time it was a head wind.

As a land yacht pilot I sailed in car parks and along little used roads between wide beaches. Sailing on roads was mentally demanding because I needed to be aware of other traffic, while lifting a wheel high to lower the mast when passing under the power lines. I also needed to obey the speed limit which was rarely possible without brakes. Like a bicycle, I did not need a licence on the road.
 
  • Like
Likes Lnewqban and JLT
  • #8
JLT
43
3
There may be many reasons, but one is that most highway bridges allow only 14 feet clearance, and the trucks barely fit underneath as it is.

Another thing that sailors learn is that you can't go directly into the wind. and you shouldn't go directly away from the wind. Therefore, sailing doesn't work well on narrow rivers where you have no control of the direction. Ditto for land yachts on highways. There is not much room to tack in a 12 foot wide lane.

Ok - so how about using wind to help with brakes?

blog-brake-fire.jpg
 
Last edited:
  • #9
hutchphd
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
2,826
1,987
Do you want to repack the drogue chute at each stoplight?
 
  • Like
Likes Vanadium 50
  • #10
JLT
43
3
Traffic usually flows at a fixed speed. That is almost impossible to achieve with sails on a fixed course.

For a few months I experimented with a sail on my bicycle, but it did not get much use because I could usually ride faster than the wind, and half the time it was a head wind.

As a land yacht pilot I sailed in car parks and along little used roads between wide beaches. Sailing on roads was mentally demanding because I needed to be aware of other traffic, while lifting a wheel high to lower the mast when passing under the power lines. I also needed to obey the speed limit which was rarely possible without brakes. Like a bicycle, I did not need a licence on the road.

Really neat to get a reply from someone who has experimented with it! How difficult would it be to automate it? Self-driving / self-adjusting sail?
 
  • #11
Baluncore
Science Advisor
8,964
3,548
How difficult would it be to automate it? Self-driving / self-adjusting sail?
I expect it would be close to impossible for the road. It would be possible offshore with a reliable collision avoidance system.
 
  • #12
JLT
43
3
Do you want to repack the drogue chute at each stoplight?

I was thinking more highway miles / use on semi's and trains than in the city. Googling for sailboats, did not find anything more recent than:
 
  • #13
anorlunda
Staff Emeritus
Insights Author
9,329
6,352
How difficult would it be to automate it? Self-driving / self-adjusting sail?
I suggest that you make one, then test it, then post your results here for us to see.
 
  • Like
Likes JLT, Vanadium 50 and phinds
  • #14
275
211
Also: In my experience, any time 2 sailboats are heading in the same general direction, it becomes a race. That would make I-95 an even more dangerous place.
 
  • Haha
Likes DaveE and anorlunda
  • #15
russ_watters
Mentor
20,464
7,071
Haha - it could be retractable. Just seems like there is something that could be done with all that free energy:
What I see in that video is a problem, not free energy. Do you think adding a sail will make that truck more or less stable?
 
  • #16
russ_watters
Mentor
20,464
7,071
Traffic usually flows at a fixed speed. That is almost impossible to achieve with sails on a fixed course.
This would be motor sailing.
 
  • #17
Baluncore
Science Advisor
8,964
3,548
This would be motor sailing.
Yes. It could be very relaxing if no one else wanted to use the same roadway and you did not have a delivery deadline to meet.
 
  • #18
DaveE
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,395
1,042
I suggest that you make one, then test it, then post your results here for us to see.
But first, take a sailing class on a nearby lake or such. It will be both educational and fun.
 
  • #19
60
11
Another application - has anyone seen air-drag used to slow down trains or semi-trucks? For airplanes, there are flaps on the wings that help slow it down - could the same idea be used for semi's and trains? I-70 in Colorado semi's often lose their brakes, have to use the runaway truck ramps etc. For a long hill, seems like it might be worth it to just throw out a parachute or use a sail to help keep the truck slowed down?
Engine breaking is used for that. Especially on big semi trucks that even has restriction valves in their exhaust to increase the engine breaking. But you should use engine braking on normal cars for long downhills too, not just ride the brakes until they start boiling the brake fluid, or the discs start glowing red hot... At last here in Norway there is traffic signs before long downhills that tell you to select a low gear.
 
  • Like
Likes 256bits and Lnewqban
  • #20
Lnewqban
Gold Member
1,233
701
Ok - so how about using wind to help with brakes?
The drag force will be proportional to the square of the speed of the truck; therefore, the braking effect would rapidly decrease as the truck slows down.
In order to have a practical use in long downhills, the speed of the truck would need to be high enough.

The natural drag of the profile and surface of the truck inmediately starts slowing it down as soon as the throttle is closed by the driver.
Deteriorating the aerodynamics with some deploying scoop or flap would add some braking effect, but again, the effectiveness will not last up to a full stop.
 
  • #21
256bits
Gold Member
3,380
1,413
Ok - so how about using wind to help with brakes?
Most likely that picture is from a 'stuck' brake causing overheating of the assembly while the truck is travelling.
A system with braking flaps wouldn't help with such a mechanical failure.
Same thing for trains. If a brake will not release, it overheats and can cause brush fires along untrimmed railway, and train derailment in the end.


When a train, or truck needs to stop abruptly, brute force is needed with the available brakes and not a soft slowing down. Other times removing engine power and coasting is employed prior to a full stop or change in speed.
 
  • #22
russ_watters
Mentor
20,464
7,071
Yes. It could be very relaxing if no one else wanted to use the same roadway and you did not have a delivery deadline to meet.
No, what I mean is that with motor sailing you aren't at the mercy of the wind. You go whatever speed you want, and the sail just reduces the load on the motor.
 
  • #23
russ_watters
Mentor
20,464
7,071
Ok - so how about using wind to help with brakes?
Yeah, that's already a thing:
1340-03298-570.jpg
 
  • #24
chemisttree
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Gold Member
3,588
622
Can you imagine having a vehicle deploy a parachute in front of you? That would cause a lot of road rage!
 
  • Like
  • Haha
Likes russ_watters, anorlunda and Lnewqban
  • #25
anorlunda
Staff Emeritus
Insights Author
9,329
6,352
Can you imagine having a vehicle deploy a parachute in front of you? That would cause a lot of road rage!
I've often wondered what I could do (other than risky brake checking) to discourage tailgaters. You just provided a great idea; and also fun. 😂
 

Related Threads on Land Yachts -- Why don't cars and trucks also use sails?

Replies
14
Views
3K
Replies
3
Views
1K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
48
Views
13K
Replies
34
Views
5K
Replies
7
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
4K
Replies
13
Views
3K
Replies
13
Views
1K
Replies
5
Views
6K
Top