A year ago, we reported on Project Sartre
, a road train system that uses a lead vehicle, driven by a professional driver, to wirelessly control private vehicles that join the train. Once a vehicle is part of the train, the commuting "drivers" are free to do as they please until their destination approaches, at which time they regain control of the vehicle and leave the train to continue on. We are happy to report that the past year of project simulations and development has gone well and that the researchers will be moving on to the next phase. Plans are now in place to start incrementally testing the system by the end of this year. According to Tom Robinson, project coordinator for Ricardo U.K, one of Sartre's partners:
We now look forward to the next stage of the work of the project, which will see vehicle tests, initially of just of a single vehicle for sensor, actuator and control-system validation. Then of a two-vehicle platoon later this year and subsequently through the remainder of the project, a multiple-vehicle platoon in order to test, develop, validate and identify remaining implementation issues for the entire Sartre system.
Considering all the benefits of this program such as better fuel efficiency
(reduced aero drag), reduced congestion (due to the tight spacing) and the ability to be applied to vehicles with any powertrain, it's hard not to hope that the next phase of testing goes well.