• Jan 17th 2011 at 7:30PM
  • 7

Self-driving cars have left the realm of science fiction thanks to the European Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) project and a little help from the safety-obsessives at Volvo.

SARTRE has been researching and developing a new system that enables a convoy of cars to be autonomously led behind a vehicle manned by a professional driver. The lead vehicle of the "train" isn't anything special – just a cargo truck – but the Volvo S60 on his six is outfitted with a range of sensors, monitors and motors which allow it to follow in its path. A network of these vehicles could tuck in behind each other and allow the drivers to sit back, enjoy a cup of coffee and get through the morning paper on their way to work. Some version of the system is expected to become a reality by 2020, but the first step is to standardize the technology, and that's exactly what SARTRE is trying to accomplish. Check it out in the video below.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      How would you ultimately get out of the train? ..Say you're car #4 out of 10, and you need the next exit, but no one else does?? ...Also, would everyone have to meet at one place at the same time first before they can get on the highway? ...I love Volvo, but this seems like a pointless technology. Straight up autonomous driving cars would make the most sense.
        • 4 Years Ago
        to join the train, you would probably get a safe distance behind the last vehicle and press some form of connect button to signal to the lead vehicle that your vehicle is joining the train, then the autonomous system would take over and move your car into position. Also, to leave the train you'd probably press 'dis-connect' button to signal to the lead vehicle that you want out and it would notify the vehicle behind you to slow down to increase the following distance and your car would slow down, allowing you ample room to exit the convoy. Once your vehicle is out you drive on your own and the train tells the vehicle that was behind you to move up.
        building "Straight up autonomous" would require a complete overhaul of the road infrastructure to install the guidance elements that the "autonomous" vehicles would use to remain on the road.
      • 4 Years Ago
      great idea as a compromise between fully autonomous/independent and semi-autonomous. And more efficient infrastructure needs too.

      • 4 Years Ago
      This is ridiculous, why don't they take the train. Also what happens if you get a long queue of road train you can never overtake it. This smacks of taking your brain out.
      I would rather educate people rather than dumb them down.
      It is a system created by intelligent but boring people who have no love of motoring.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I am not ignorant
        I am fully aware of industrial uses, this is happening already in minor forms in manufacturing and printing plants. But my point is that the EU want to eventually use this kind of thing as standard for all road users. They have dabbled with satellite controlled speed devices already.
        Technology is great but if it is used in the right way for the right uses. I feel that the right to drive my car under my control is a right worth preserving. If I want someone to drive me I will get a taxi, bus or train. which could drive automatically although what will we do with all the redundant bus drivers :)
        • 4 Years Ago
        Wow your ignorance knows no bounds ever consider that this could perhaps be used in a shipping application? Places like Australia where "road trains" are the among the only vehicles that travel through the center would benefit greatly from this technology, allowing one driver to transport significantly more goods.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Do the other cars in the convoy actually exist? Or am I alone in my suffering on this boring stretch of country side road?
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