Lead car will control movements of following vehicles
4 January 2010

Trials of 'roadtrains', where the first car in a line of up to eight vehicles controls the actions of following vehicles electronically, will begin this year.

The system works by linking together cars electronically. The driver in the vehicle at the front would do all the steering, braking, gearchanges and accelerating and his or her decisions would be electronically transmitted to the cars behind.

The technology is being trialled by Safe Road Trains for the Environment (Sartre), using EU funding. Its designers say it would reduce each vehicle's fuel consumption by up to 20 per cent thanks to the aerodynamic efficiency of being tucked in just a few feet behind the vehicle in front.

Initial tests will be conducted at proving grounds in Britain, Spain and Sweden and are expected to last for three years. However, during this trial period the system is expected to be tested on public roads in Spain.

Erik Coelingh, technical director of active safety functions at Volvo Cars, which is involved in the project, said: "This type of autonomous driving actually doesn't require any hocus-pocus technology, and no investment in infrastructure. Instead, the emphasis is on development and on adapting technology that is already in existence."

Initially at least, the lead vehicle in a roadtrain is expected to be driven by a professional driver, such as a taxi or lorry driver, who is familiar with the route.

Cars wanting to join the moving convoy would be able to link up with the rear vehicle while those drivers wanting to leave would signal their intention before taking back control of the wheel. Once they had pulled out, the remaining cars would close up the gap.

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4 January 2010

Is it April the 1st?

4 January 2010

So the driver in the lead car will never make a mistake resulting in a multi car pile up?

4 January 2010

Recipe for disaster. The next stage will be to put lead drivers through some kind of traiing program similar to pilots etc.

What a load of bollo--s.

4 January 2010

I cannot see how this can take into account differences in vehicles dynamics, especially acceleration and braking distances. This could only work if all cars in each "train" were mechanically identical, fully maintained and loaded identically. What would happen if you had say a Porsche 911 at the front of the "train" and a fully-laden Transit van at the rear and the driver of the Porsche is forced to make an emergency stop. Are we going to end up with eight car pile-ups everywhere? This is the most stupid idea the EU have cope up with to date!

4 January 2010

[quote autocar]the lead vehicle in a roadtrain is expected to be driven by a professional driver, such as a taxi or lorry driver...[/quote]

Oh perfect, I feel safer already.

4 January 2010

Not really up for this thanks. I'd rather get on a real train, you know like they have on the continent.

4 January 2010

So you have a number of people sitting down, being driven along by one driver in the front. That`s a bus, isn`t it?


4 January 2010

Also what is the incentive for the lead driver. Unless he gets paid for the job the added insurance costs and potential liability + no fuel benefit for the leader. I think this is one of those great ideas on the surface, like communism, but would require the back up of some totalitarian regime governing our roads to end up with the veneer of it working. See you in a road train in about 5 years then.

4 January 2010

So they've picked the roads of Spain to test this on... Right. OK. Um...

Bring back steel wheels.


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