The EU-financed SARTRE project has carried out the first successful demonstration of its vehicle platooning technology at the Volvo Proving Ground close to Gothenburg, Sweden – marking the first time that the development teams have tried their systems together outside the simulators. The vehicle platooning system is a convoy of vehicles, where a professional driver in a lead vehicle drives a line of other vehicles. Each car measures the distance, speed and direction and adjusts to the car in front. All vehicles are totally detached and can leave the procession at any time. Once in the platoon, drivers can relax and do other things while the platoon proceeds towards its destination.
Platooning is designed to improve a number of aspects, such as: road safety, as it rules out the human factor that is the cause of at least 80% of road accidents; fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions are saved by up to 20%; convenience for drivers, because it frees up time for other matters; and traffic congestion, as the vehicles will travel at highway speed with a gap of only a few meters between them. The tests carried out included a lead vehicle and single following car. The steering wheel of the following car moves by itself, as the vehicle smoothly follows the lead truck around the country road test track. The driver is able to drink coffee or read a paper, using neither hand nor foot to operate his vehicle. The technology development is well under way and is likely go into production in a few years time. What may take substantially longer is public acceptance of the system and the legislation where 25 EU governments must all pass similar laws.
“We are very pleased to see that the various systems work so well together for the first time,” stated Eric Coelingh, engineering specialist at Volvo Cars. “After all, the systems come from seven SARTRE member companies in four countries. The winter weather provided some extra testing of cameras and communication equipment.” Tom Robinson, SARTRE project coordinator, of Ricardo UK Ltd, added, “This is a major milestone for this important European research program. Platooning offers the prospect of improved road safety, better road space utilization, improved driver comfort on long journeys and reduced fuel consumption and hence CO2 emissions. With the combined skills of its participating companies, SARTRE is making tangible progress toward the realization of safe and effective road train technology.”
January 17, 2011
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