posted 7 years ago

Volvo develop ‘car train’ technology

Drivers could be able to read, make phone calls and send emails within 10 years without endangering themselves and other road users, thanks to new technology developed by Volvo

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 given.

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.”

sounds like an April 1st gag!!!

I asume trucks are tracked so the technology could inform the driver where the truck is heading before joining the convoy. I guess it would provide advance warning the leader is taking the next junction. Not sure car's should lead unless their speed is restricted. For safety and economy the truck route makes sense.

I suspect the idea is that the lorry creates the slipstream for the cars, aiding the claimed improvements in fuel consumption. It doesnt say but I would assume that the lorry is driven by computer too - I would have thought that the lorry driver would need help to be able to manage the train behind which will be largely hidden from his view.

Surely a car should lead a car convoy and a truck should lead a truck convoy. As bizzare as this all seems it is a step in the right direction keeping the traffic flowing and keeping their distance.

Choice of a lorry to head convoy seems bizarre. That immediately knocks 10mph off the maximum speed of the 'train' and probably even more when the lorry slows to go uphill.

My first thought was why have all the cars behind dependent on the lorry driver and what happens if he falls asleep or starts texting? I think the technology for safe driverless technology has more potential as it is aiming to eliminate human error.

This still depends on the human driver of the lorry who could still make a mistake. Why does it need to be a lorry ? Could a car driver head the convoy?