First demonstration of SARTRE vehicle platooning.
Platooning may be the new way of travelling on motorways in as little as ten years time and the EU-financed SARTRE project has carried out the first successful demonstration of its technology at the Volvo Proving Ground close to Gothenburg, Sweden.
This is the first time the EU-financed development teams in SARTRE try their systems together outside the simulators.
"We are very pleased to see that the various systems work so well together already the first time," says Erik 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." "This is a major milestone for this important European research programme," says Tom Robinson, SARTRE project coordinator, of Ricardo UK Ltd.
"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".Safer and more convenient ;Vehicle platooning, as envisaged by the SARTRE project, 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. But once in the platoon, drivers can relax and do other things while the platoon proceeds towards its long haul destination. 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.
Platooning is designed to improve a number of things:
Firstly road safety, since it minimises the human factor that is the cause of at least 80 percent of the road accidents.
Secondly, it saves fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions with up to 20 percent.
It is also convenient for the driver because it frees up time for other matters than driving.
And since the vehicles will travel in highway speed with only a few meters gap, platooning may also relieve traffic congestion.
The technology development is well underway and can most likely go into production in a few years time. What may take substantially longer are the public acceptance and the legislation where 25 EU governments must pass similar laws.
"It is great to see that all systems work so well together. We develop the communication between the vehicles, today using a vehicle-to-vehicle specified radio frequency. Our next step will be to develop a parallel system, probably using 3G, so there is a built-in back-up if the primary communication fails," says Erik Hedin at SP.
About the SARTRE project: The SARTRE project stands for Safe Road Trains for the Environment. Part-funded by the European Commission under the Framework 7 programme, SARTRE is led by Ricardo UK Ltd and comprises collaboration between the following additional participating companies: Idiada and Robotiker-Tecnalia of Spain, Institut für Kraftfahrwesen Aachen (IKA) of Germany, and SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Volvo Car Corporation and Volvo Technology of Sweden. SARTRE aims to encourage a step change in personal transport usage through the development of safe environmental road trains (platoons). Systems are being developed in prototype form that will facilitate the safe adoption of road trains on un-modified public highways with full interaction with non-platoon vehicles. The project is addressing the three cornerstone transportation issues of environment, safety and congestion while at the same time encouraging driver acceptance through the prospect of increased "driver comfort". Read the full story »