[tabi] European 'Road Train' Cars Drive Themselves While You Sleep

  • From: Lighthouse of the Big Bend <lighthousebigbend@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: tabi <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2011 10:02:53 -0500

European 'Road Train' Cars Drive Themselves While You Sleep
The Huffington Post   |  Catharine Smith

Imagine you're driving down the highway, when you pass a column of
cars cruising in tandem. You notice with awe that the steering wheel
in each car moves autonomously while the drivers eat, read and get
ready for work--some drivers even appear to be sleeping! If this
sounds too good to be true, you're in for another shock: you've just
received a sneak peek at 2021.

Testing of this so-called "road train" system is already underway in
Europe, where the European Commission-backed Safe Road Trains for the
Environment (SARTRE) program has partnered with companies like Volvo
Car Corporation to develop technology that will make driving safer,
easier and more efficient.

A "road train" describes a line of cars, each outfitted with advanced
steering and sensory technology, that follow behind a leader vehicle,
which guides the cars as they travel along a preprogrammed route. Each
car in the "train" communicates with the leader via Wi-Fi, thus
requiring little to no input from their individual drivers, who are
free to take their eyes off the road and engage in other activities
behind the wheel.

Until recently, this system has been tested only in simulations. The
first "road train" hit the streets in December 2010, Wired reports.
This real-world test took place on a snowy road outside of Gothenburg,
Sweden and consisted of a mini-train of only two cars, a Volvo S60 and
its leader vehicle. The next step for researchers will be to add more
cars to the train and tighten the distance between each car.

In addition to reducing human-error collisions, SARTRE researchers
hope this system of driving will increase fuel efficiency by as much
as 20 percent, according to CNN. With each car traveling at a constant
speed only a few meters apart, these "road trains" are also likely to
ease traffic congestion on crowded roads.
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