Volvo’s driverless road train in Spain is public mainly on the plain | Engadget
It’s been awhile since we saw Volvo’s SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project, which was last running out of harm’s way on a test track near Gothenburg. Volvo has just taken a big step forward in fostering confidence by conducting its road train on public asphalt. The 124-mile Spanish test both proved that the cars could stay driverless without posing a threat and upped the ante for what the cars could do: the lead truck, an S60, a V60 and an XC60 all moved along at a brisk 53MPH with a tighter gap between vehicles than there was in the original test, at just 20 feet. SARTRE was so successful in the public run that Volvo is now focusing on far less contentious issues — like making sure fuel use drops by the promised 20 percent. There’s still the looming question of making a viable business model, though Volvo’s dream if realized will make sure no driverless car has to go solo.

Volvo’s driverless road train in Spain is public mainly on the plain | Engadget

It’s been awhile since we saw Volvo’s SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project, which was last running out of harm’s way on a test track near Gothenburg. Volvo has just taken a big step forward in fostering confidence by conducting its road train on public asphalt. The 124-mile Spanish test both proved that the cars could stay driverless without posing a threat and upped the ante for what the cars could do: the lead truck, an S60, a V60 and an XC60 all moved along at a brisk 53MPH with a tighter gap between vehicles than there was in the original test, at just 20 feet. SARTRE was so successful in the public run that Volvo is now focusing on far less contentious issues — like making sure fuel use drops by the promised 20 percent. There’s still the looming question of making a viable business model, though Volvo’s dream if realized will make sure no driverless car has to go solo.

The road ahead looks smooth for automatic driving systems. For the first time, Volvo, in partnership with a European Commission research project called Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE), has successfully road-tested a linking system that allows drivers to relax and tune out. In such systems, cars form “road trains” behind a professional driver, creating a semi-autonomous convoy–essentially, a truck and car conga line that could improve highway congestion and inefficient gasoline use. SARTRE platoons are guided by a lead vehicle, which is … followed by a succession of other, computer-controlled cars that are electronically tethered in the convoy. Each vehicle in the platoon measures the distance, speed and direction of the vehicle directly in front, adjusting its movements to stay in formation…. Unsurprisingly, there’s a metric horsetonne of technology that goes into making this possible. Each platoon car uses cameras to detect the position of the vehicle in front, all have drive-by-wire technology that allows the steering, accelerator and brakes to be controlled by a computer, and all communicate using a car-to-car wireless network. [CNET UK]