Autonomous Road Trains Make First Debut on Public Highway

Posted on May 30, 2012

The SARTRE project - which stands for Safe Road Trains for the Environment - aims to encourage the development and use of technology for road trains of self-driven cars called platoons. A lead vehicle with a professional driver takes responsibility for a platoon. Following vehicles can then enter a semi-autonomous control mode behind the lead car. Drivers of the following vehicles can relax and do other things that would normally be prohibited for obvious safety reasons, such as operate a phone, reading a book or watching a movie.

Project Sartre made its first debut yesterday on a public highway in Spain. The road train was comprised of a Volvo XC60, a Volvo V60 and a Volvo S60 plus one truck automatically driving in convoy behind a lead vehicle. The vehicles autonomously monitor the lead vehicle and other vehicles in their immediate vicinity using cameras, radar and laser sensors.

Linda Wahlstrom, project manager for the SARTRE project at Volvo Car Corporation, says, "We covered 200 kilometres in one day and the test turned out well. We're really delighted. 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."

Here is a video of the road train test, plus an animation of the road train from NMA News. Take a look:

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