Volvos Road Trains – the future?

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The Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SATRE) project has involved 7 European partners and has succesfully been finalised this year.

The idea behind the project is to implement “Road Trains” on motorways the cars joining together behind a lead lorry. The car then drives autonomously and follows the speed and direction of the vehicle in front. Leaving you to have to engage with your passengers, maybe play I-Spy, or continue the argument you started before you left home. You could also do things they suggest like, reading a book, or “working”?!

Volvo is the only participating car manufacturer in SARTRE. The project road train includes a manually driven lead truck, which is followed by one truck and three Volvo cars (S60, V60 and XC60). The vehicles are driven autonomously at speeds of up to 90 km/h – in some cases with no more than a four-metre gap between the vehicles.

The cars can autonomosly join and leave the convoys, as well as communicate with the all the vehicles in the convoy. Maybe so you can get other road users opinions on “that [email protected] that cut you up”?

The long-term vision is to create a transport system where joining the road train will be more attractive and comfortable than leaving your car behind and using public transportation on long-distance trips. Volvo are already talking about the Fees and how much it will cost to use these road trains. I think somehow that could be the part that kills the idea from taking off. Why pay to join a road train when you can just drive yourself?

Some of the benefits include:

  • It promotes safer transport. A professional driver leads the vehicle platoon, for instance in a truck. Inter-vehicle reaction response times are very quick thanks to the co-ordinated technology.
  • Environmental impact is reduced. The cars drive close to each other and reap the benefit of lower air drag.
  • The reduced speed variations improve traffic flow, creating more efficiently utilised road capacity.

Its an interesting idea, maybe in 20 years time this is how motorways will be. You will drive your car to the junction and catch the 12:20 “Road Train” to London. But until something like this is enforced and state run, i really cant see it taking off at all.

Heres a video of it in action:


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(trust me they are arguing)

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