Automated ‘road train’ hits public highway
LONDON, May 29 — Researchers from a project to create automated vehicle convoys have tested the technology on public roads for the first time.
The SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project, a consortium led by Volvo, announced May 28 that for the first time ever, a road train had operated on a motorway, just outside Barcelona in Spain.
Described as a “historic” test, the test involved several Volvo vehicles and a truck driving behind a lead vehicle, which assumed control of all five as part of the systems test.
With the system engaged, the drivers of the vehicles following the lead truck were able to disengage, with computer systems “mimicking” the movements of the lead vehicle at 85km/h.
That allows each to accelerate, brake and turn in exactly the same way, which will one day allow vehicles on highways to join a convoy, disengage their own controls and do something else while driving.
The benefits include improved traffic flow and safety thanks to professional drivers sticking to a steady speed, as well as environmental benefits thanks to the reduction in braking and acceleration.
The first public test covered 200km, Volvo confirmed, although 10,000km have been racked up by the research team working on the project, which is now starting to study the emissions benefits of road trains.
After that, it may not be long before the system is operational on public highways, SARTRE says.
“People think that autonomous driving is science fiction, but the fact is that the technology is already here. From the purely conceptual viewpoint, it works fine and road trains will be around in one form or another in the future,” said Volvo’s Linda Wahlström.
“We’ve focused really hard on changing as little as possible in existing systems. Everything should function without any infrastructure changes to the roads or expensive additional components in the cars. Apart from the software developed as part of the project, it is really only the wireless network installed between the cars that set them apart from other cars available in showrooms today.” — AFP-Relaxnews