• 10-OCT-2011

Driverless Future – Are we Ready?

The history of autonomous vehicles dates back to the 1970s in Japan, and various projects are currently underway at universities, research institutes and high-tech companies around the world. Volvo's vision of combining a well-trained professional driver with increased automation is being realized through the SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project. The idea behind the project is to develop a technology for vehicle platooning – that is, a convoy where a professional driver in a lead vehicle drives a line of other vehicles. Each vehicle in the convoy measures the distance, speed and direction to the car in front, and adjusts accordingly. The vehicles are not physically attached to each other and can leave the procession at any time. But once in the platoon, the following drivers can relax and do other things while the platoon proceeds towards its destination under the expert guidance of the lead driver. Platooning is expected to deliver a number of benefits: road safety will improve as the human factor is minimized; fuel consumption – and therefore also CO2 emissions – will be reduced by up to 20 percent; Additionally, road congestion will be reduced as vehicles will be only a few meters apart; finally, the drivers of the following vehicles will be able to rest, work or eat. The technology has been successfully tested with one car following the lead vehicle. However, Public acceptance and the relevant legislation may be longer in coming. Available footage includes an edited package about the SARTRE project as well as an animation.