Posted May 29th 2012 10:30AM
A convoy of self-driven Volvo vehicles just completed a 200km (125-mile) journey in Spain on public roadways. The cars were wirelessly linked to each other and "mimicked" a lead vehicle, driven by a professional driver. The test convoy used for this self-drive experiment included three passenger cars and a large transport truck set at 85kph (52mph) with the gap between each vehicle just 6 meters (19 feet).
The cars are fitted with special features such as cameras, radar and laser sensors - allowing the vehicle to monitor the lead vehicle and also other vehicles in their immediate vicinity. Using wireless communication, the vehicles in the platoon "mimic" the lead vehicle using autonomous control - accelerating, braking and turning in exactly the same way as the leader
This test was developed by Volvo to showcase their latest technology, aimed to lead us into a new age of relaxed self-driving in the near future. The so-called road train test was carried out as part of a European Commission research project known as Sartre - Safe Road Trains for the Environment.
According to Volvo, drivers "can now work on their laptops, read a book or sit back and enjoy a relaxed lunch" while driving. "Driving among other road-users is a great milestone in our project. It was truly thrilling," says Linda Wahlstroem, project manager for the Sartre project at Volvo Car Corporation.
"People think that autonomous driving is science fiction, but the fact is that the technology is already here. From the purely conceptual viewpoint, it works fine and road train will be around in one form or another in the future," says Wahlstroem.
The three-year Sartre project has been under way since 2009. Other partners include UK car technology firm Ricardo UK, Tecnalia Research & Innovation of Spain, Institut fur Kraftfahrzeuge Aachen (IKA) of Germany and the Technical Research Institute of Sweden.
All told, the vehicles in the project have covered about 10,000km on test circuits.
The eventual aim of the project is to have lots of cars "slaved" to a lead vehicle and travelling at high speed along specific routes.
News Source: BBC