Teresa Escrig

News and oppinion about Cognitive AI & Robotics

Autonomous road train project

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The sucessfull results of the  SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project represents the beginning of a new era where the organized chaos of individual drivers can be blunted by an autonomous “follow-the-leader” approach that has clear benefits: As well as freeing up the driver from the hassle of actually controlling the vehicle, the  project promises benefits in terms of safety, congestion (meaning faster travel times) and fuel consumption, which could be reduced by as much as 20 percent on the highway.

By , May 28, 2012

Part-funded by the European Commission, SARTRE is a joint venture between Ricardo UK Ltd, Applus Idiada, Robotiker, Institut für Kraftfahrzeuge Aachen (IKA), SP Technical Research Institute, Volvo Technology and Volvo Car Corporation. It works by using a high-tech suite of cameras, radar and laser sensors to enable a wirelessly linked “platoon” of cars to travel autonomously in a road train behind a lead vehicle operated by a professional driver.

The project started in 2009 and the technology was successfully demonstrated at the Volvo Proving Ground near Gothenburg, Sweden, back in 2010. In the latest milestone, the SARTRE platoon took to the motorways of Spain amidst other road users in a journey that saw a Volvo XC60, a Volvo V60, a Volvo S60 and one truck drive automatically behind the lead vehicle at 85 km/h (53 mph) separated by a distance of as little as five meters (16.4 feet). Using Ricardo’s autonomous control system, each of the vehicles was able to accelerate, brake and turn in exactly the same fashion as the lead vehicle.

“People think that autonomous driving is science fiction, but the fact is that the technology is already here,” says Linda Wahlström, project manager for the SARTRE project at Volvo Car Corporation.

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