Photo/IllutrationThree trucks move along the Shin-Tomei Expressway in an experiment conducted on Jan. 23 in which the lead driver controlled the speed and braking of the trio of vehicles. (Eitaro Takeyama)

Imagine if a single driver could be in charge of three trucks at the same time. No more chronic shortage of truck drivers in Japan, for sure.

An experiment Jan. 23 in Shizuoka Prefecture effectively pulled off the driving feat.

The driver behind the wheel of the lead truck in a three-vehicle convoy controlled the brakes and accelerators of all three vehicles from his seat in the experiment using wireless transmission.

The two trucks following the lead vehicle did have drivers controlling the steering, admittedly.

Toyota Tsusho Corp., a Nagoya-based trading company, was commissioned by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and other agencies to conduct the experiment that utilizes autonomous driving technology.

Trucks from different manufacturers were used and they traveled about 15 kilometers in total on a section of the Shin-Tomei Expressway.

The organizers of the experiment hope to commercialize the technology by 2020.