A project has been developed so drivers will be able to do things that would normally
be prohibited for reasons of safety for example, read a book, watch a movie, make
phone calls and send emails within 10 years without endangering themselves and
other road users, thanks to new vehicle platooning technology developed by Volvo.
Volvo has spent the last three years working on the Safe Road Trains for the
Environment known as SARTRE. It entails joining a number of cars together
in a (car train) convoy which is controlled by a lorry at the head of the line. The
technology allows vehicle convoys to operate on normal public highways with
significant environmental, safety and comfort benefits. All a motorist has to do is
join the convoy which is led by a lorry which uses a radio signal to control the cars
behind it. Drivers can, by pressing a button on the dashboard, signal their intention to
leave the convoy and resume control of the car.
According to Volvo the car train is ideal for lengthy motorway journeys. Not only do drivers
make better use of their time, but the smooth ride lowers fuel consumption by 20 per cent,
relieves congestion and decreases pollution. It also uses technology which is already in place
such as “adaptive cruise control” which, instead of setting the speed, fixes the distance a car
is from the vehicle in front.
The long term vision of the SARTRE project has been to create a transport system where
booking, joining and exiting a road train will be a smoother experience than leaving your
car behind and using public transport on long distance trips.
It is the latest take on self driving cars which are seen as safer because they take the
risk of human error out of motoring. Sweden and Belgium are seen as the countries
which will lead the way in adopting the technology once official approval has been
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research and Innovation
said “this technology is a promising example of an innovative approach to making
transport greener, safer and smarter.”
By Geraldine Ashton Green
Mon, 01 Oct 2012