Ricardo-supplied systems to mimic the braking, acceleration and steering of the lead vehicle.
The public trail is the latest test of the SARTRE (SAfe Road TRains for the Environment) project, which aims to reduce vehicle congestion and fuel consumption by coupling vehicles in autonomous convoys on major highways. The project aims to deliver improved comfort for drivers, who can work on their laptops, read a book or simply relax.
Volvo determined the gap between vehicles for the Spanish trial after analysing its own test track results from intervals varying from 5m-15m. The project’s next phase will involve an analysis of fuel use.
Project head Linda Wahlstrom says the average speed was 85km/h. ‘‘ Driving among other road-users is a great milestone in our project. It was truly thrilling,’’ she says.
The SARTRE project began in 2009 and Wahlstrom says the fleet has to date covered about 10,000km. ‘‘ People think that autonomous driving is science fiction, but the fact is that the technology is already here,’’ she says. ‘‘ From the purely conceptual viewpoint, it works fine and the road train will be around in one form or another in the future.
‘‘ We’ve focused really hard on changing as little as possible in existing systems. Everything should function without any infrastructure changes to the roads or expensive additional components in the cars.
‘‘ Only the wireless network installed between the cars (sets) them apart from other cars in showrooms today.’’
No hands: The convoy — five vehicles, one driver — averaged 85km/h. Project head Linda Wahlstrom (above) says it was ‘‘a great milestone’’