Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE)

by Admin on May 26, 2014

The SARTRE project is a three year European Union financed project launched in September 2009. Its goal is to encourage a change in personal transportation usage. This is done through developing strategies, technology, and prototype systems for the platooning of vehicles on unmodified highways.

A vehicle platoon is a road train which is made up of vehicles that enter a semi-autonomous control mode, where they are controlled by a lead vehicle that is driven by a professional driver. Platoon length will be determined by the ability of the platoon to interact well with other road users.

Most of the technology already exists with the software and wireless network systems being the biggest differences between the test cars and the cars that can be found in showrooms today. Each vehicle in the road train would be equipped with adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation, lane departure warning, brake control systems and an in-car communication system which allows the lead vehicle to take control.

Once on the highway a properly equipped car with a subscription to the road train program could connect and disconnect from a road train whenever they like.

The SARTRE projects main goals are to:

  • Increase highway safety through reduced human error

  • Reduce fuel consumption through drafting and speed control

  • Control highway congestion through a smoother flow of traffic

  • Allow drivers of platooned cars to relax and do things that a driver would normally be prohibited from doing (i.e. read, watch a movie, text, etc.)

In January 2011 the first prototype was tested, and by January 2012  a three car road train was successfully demonstrated on a closed course. Then in May 2012 a road train drove for over 200 kms on a highway near Barcelona, Spain. In September 2012 the project was completed.

While the SARTRE project is not as advanced as Google’s Autonomous cars, it remains a less expensive, nearer future form of autonomous driving technology. Now as to how soon you could see a road train driving on a highway near you, is only a matter of legislation and user acceptance.

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