One of the most ambitious projects financed by the European Union (EU), SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment), that aims at making vehicle platooning or tailgating as streamlined as possible with automated cars, has now finally come out of the simulators and has conducted its first ever successful demonstration of this cutting edge technology at the Volvo Proving Ground in Sweden. As per the project SARTRE, the objective is to enable fully automated vehicles to move in a line, much like a convoy with the lead driver leading the way. The participating companies in the EU funded SARTRE project are SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Ricardo plc, The Robotiker-Tecnalia Technology Centre, Applus+ IDIADA, The Institut für Kraftfahrzeuge of the RWTH Aachen University and the Volvo Car Corporation.
The SARTRE projects envisions the line of cars being fully automated and these cars can then ascertain the distance, speed and direction of the vehicle in front of it and then adjusts itself accordingly. The vehicles have been programmed as such that they can be driven individually, yet when they form a line, the automated mechanism takes over. During the test run, one automated car was made to follow the lead truck, wherein the following car steered itself on to the correct course without any human intervention. One of the principal reasons for the commencement of the SATRTRE project is to enhance road safety and encourage platooning while ensuring that the convoy type movement is purely controlled by machines thereby considerably reducing the chances of human error, that is the main cause of over 80% of traffic related accidents. Furthermore, this type of single file driving will also reduce traffic congestion, as well as carbon emissions.
According to Tom Robinson (Project Coordinator, SARTRE, Ricardo UK Ltd.),
“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 towards the realization of safe and effective road train technology”.