SARTRE project hits the streets of Barcelona30 May 2012
For the first time ever, a road train – comprising a Volvo XC60, a Volvo V60 and a Volvo S60 plus one truck automatically driving in convoy behind a lead vehicle – has operated on a public motorway among other road users. The historic test in motorway outside Barcelona, Spain, took place last week and was highly successful.
"This is a very milestone in the development of safe road train technology," comments SARTRE project director, Tom Robinson of Ricardo. "For the very first time we have been able to demonstrate a convoy of autonomously driven vehicles following a lead vehicle with its professional driver, in a mixed traffic environment on a European motorway.
"The success of this test is a reflection of the hard work, dedication and innovative skills of the SARTRE project team and its contributing companies," continues Robinson. "While there remain many challenges to full scale implementation, the SARTRE project has demonstrated a very practical approach to the implementation of safe road train technology that is capable of delivering an improved driving experience, better road space utilisation and reduced carbon dioxide emissions."
The SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project is a joint venture between Ricardo UK Ltd, Applus+ Idiada, Tecnalia Research & Innovation, Institut für Kraftfahrzeuge Aachen (IKA), SP Technical Research Institute, Volvo Technology and Volvo Car Corporation.
A road train consists of a lead vehicle driven by a professional driver followed by a number of vehicles. Building on Volvo Car Corporation's and Volvo Technology's already existing safety systems – including features such as cameras, radar and laser sensors – the vehicles monitor the lead vehicle and also other vehicles in their immediate vicinity. By adding in wireless communication, the vehicles in the platoon "mimic" the lead vehicle using Ricardo autonomous control – accelerating, braking and turning in exactly the same way as the leader.
The project aims to deliver improved comfort for drivers, who can now spend their time doing other things while driving. They can work on their laptops, read a book or sit back and enjoy a relaxed lunch. Naturally the project also aims to improve traffic safety, reduce environmental impact and – thanks to smooth speed control – cut the risk of traffic tailbacks.
One lead vehicle and four trailing vehicles – consisting of a Volvo S60, a Volvo V60 and a Volvo XC60 plus a truck – made up the historic road train in Spain. The vehicles drove at 85km/h and the gap between each vehicle was just six metres.
Ricardo UK Ltd
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