A project backed by the EU and Volvo to develop self-driving road trains has completed its first public trial
29 May 2012

A convoy of self-driven cars has completed the first ever test on a public motorway. The test in Spain covered 200km as part of the SARTRE project investigating the use of semi-autonomous motoring.

The SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project is a EU-backed investigation into removing the need for drivers in cars following a lead vehicle.

A Volvo XC90, V60 and S60, plus a truck, followed a lead vehicle driven by a professional driver on motorways outside Barcelona. It marks the first ever road train journey among other road users.

Linda Wahlström, project manager at SARTRE said: "Driving among other road-users is a great milestone in our project. It was truly thrilling. During our trials on the test circuit we tried out gaps from five to fifteen metres.”

The vehicles employ a range of technologies already fitted to Volvo models, such as cameras, radars and laser sensors, to monitor the lead vehicle, and other nearby vehicles. New wireless communication systems allow the train to mimic the steering, speed and braking of the lead vehicle.

Partners in the SARTRE project, including Volvo and Ricardo UK, believe road trains can deliver improved comfort for drivers, who can work, read or relax behind the wheel rather than driving. It is predicted that safety and pollution levels can both be improved and the risk of tailbacks can be reduced.

Wahlström said: "We've learnt a lot during this period. People think autonomous driving is science fiction, but the fact is the technology is already here. From the purely conceptual viewpoint, it works fine and road train will be around in one form or another in the future.

"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."

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29 May 2012

One of the things I like about driving is that you CAN'T work while you're doing it.

Being ABLE to is just one short step away from being OBLIGED to.

29 May 2012

Mac Magog wrote:

One of the things I like about driving is that you CAN'T work while you're doing it.

Being ABLE to is just one short step away from being OBLIGED to.

Exactly. I used the Eurostar train to Paris for a holiday not long ago, treated ouselves to a more expensive ticket with a meal etc all included and expected to have a "trés jolie" experience - which it was for the first ten minutes or so and then almost everyone else around us got out their lap-tops and mobile phones and the rest of the jourey was swamped by the sound of young alpha-males talking loudly on their phones or showing their colleagues/friends all the crap they were looking at on the inter-web-thingy. Never again - what should have been a pleasant trip was reduced to a training-day for purgatory.

The day that driving turns into that sort of experience will be the day I tear up my licence and retreat to bed.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

30 May 2012

This is another step into fully automating the transport network, so in the future you wouldn't need to drive at all. Apart from the fact that your speed and location will be continuously monitored, you'll be even more dumbed-down, domesticated and dependent than you are now. It will come to the point where most humans (i.e. the masses) won't have to think at all about anything, and that's just what the elites want. One could argue that we've already got to that stage. Of course they'll introduce it via the Trojan horse of benefits such as "safety" or being more "economical". I guess the thoughts that people can revert back to being a human is becoming frivolous.

ordinary bloke wrote:

.....the sound of young alpha-males talking loudly on their phones or showing their colleagues/friends all the crap they were looking at on the inter-web-thingy.

Oh! That would be the "inter-web-thingy" in which his forum is found and in which you posted your comment, wouldn't it? I guess you're a victim of Top Gear, picking up their memes to sound trendy.

 

 

 

30 May 2012

Whilst I can understand the concerns people have, I think there are some significant positives as well.  Long-distance motorway travel can be tiring and monotonous, which becomes dangerous, and as many of us regularly point out on this very forum, motorways can be horribly inefficient due to poor lane etiquette and poor driving skills.  

A system which allows drivers to relax during an otherwise lengthy and tedious journey, whilst reducing risks/congestion/pollution is a very positive step.  And if you want to actually drive your car and enjoy it, you're not likely to be choosing to take a motorway anyway.

And FWIW, I think Volvo's newest cars are showing significant improvements over their rather poor efforts for the last 30 years, and the new V40 looks very promising.

30 May 2012

disco.stu wrote:

And FWIW, I think Volvo's newest cars are showing significant improvements over their rather poor efforts for the last 30 years

That's ruling out quite a lot of cars, including the impressive 850 of 1992 and the XC90 which re-wrote the SUV rulebook in 2003.

29 May 2012

OMG.... Would life really be worth living? The end is nigh guys.....?

29 May 2012

So if I've got this right, Volvo have finally realised that their cars are so boring to drive, owners would rather it drove itself so they can do something more interesting - like work!

So glad I drive a BMW!

29 May 2012

4rephill wrote:

So if I've got this right, Volvo have finally realised that their cars are so boring to drive, owners would rather it drove itself so they can do something more interesting - like work!

So glad I drive a BMW!

Are you sure your name isnt Shaun, as in Shaun the sheep, following the crowd and driving a BMW, a company who are seriously off the boil, with a range of ugly cars, half of which are pointless, and most of them are no where near as good to drive as they should be, ultimate driving machine they are not.

I drive a Volvo because I have a mind of my own, and because those that truly know Volvo, dont want to be best friends with a chiropractor, or to follow the sheep. Oh and I am not anti German my wife of 24 years is one.

 

 

30 May 2012

Citytiger wrote:

I drive a Volvo because I have a mind of my own, and because those that truly know Volvo, dont want to be best friends with a chiropractor, or to follow the sheep.

After cars like the 850 T-5, 850R, C70, S60, C30; deadheads will still choose to believe that Volvo's are somehow dull and devoid of character.  Even prior to the 1990's, they had cars like the P1800, 480 and turbocharged 240 and 740 models.  

<p>I am totally against the idea of roadtrains and hope no such thing will ever happen, but truly hate the sort of cliche comments that I have seen spouted here.</p>

30 May 2012

Volvophile wrote:

Citytiger wrote:

I drive a Volvo because I have a mind of my own, and because those that truly know Volvo, dont want to be best friends with a chiropractor, or to follow the sheep.

After cars like the 850 T-5, 850R, C70, S60, C30; deadheads will still choose to believe that Volvo's are somehow dull and devoid of character.  Even prior to the 1990's, they had cars like the P1800, 480 and turbocharged 240 and 740 models.  

<p>I am totally against the idea of roadtrains and hope no such thing will ever happen, but truly hate the sort of cliche comments that I have seen spouted here.</p>

 

I dont disagree, Volvo have made some interesting cars in the past....... and not a single one today!

not sure how you can claim BMW are "Off the boil" CT? they have recently been listed as the worlds most valuable Car manufacturer and they are makeing more money then they ever have.

I personally think that there car range is actually at the best point its been for many years, the New 3 is a cracking car and has had rave reviews from across the board, the 5 is a fantasic wagon and in MSport trim great looking, the 6 is stunning and even more so the GC. The X3 is also a fabulous all round car and has moved on massively from the old on and the Z4 is also stunning. i agree the 1 series and X1 are hardly lookers. but the rest of the range is in prime shape! all the above are IMHO!

re road trains, agree with several of the above comments that i dont like this idea at all. one other thing that worries me with this is, lorries are limited to 56MPH, meaning the road trains will be traveling at 56. this will clearly mean that jorney times get considerably longer if you are in a road train, so whats the insentive? answer motorway limits to be reduced to 56mph..... *puts on tinfoil hat and goes down in to the bunker to eat spam*  

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