Cruise con­trolled

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

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’’

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