Hey Mom! Look… No Hands!

11 04 2013

Dale BertramI know we are often amazed when we see people driving and multi-tasking. Even in “hands-free” states people still manage to drive and check their hair, makeup, grab a bite of their lunchtime hamburger and yes…chat away on their mobile phone. There has been a lot of debate on distracted driving. Well…Volvo has been busy testing autonomous driving so soon you may be able to text, shave, put on your makeup and take a nap while you drive!

Say what?? Yes! It is true! Volvo tested a “road train” of four vehicles that drove automatically convoy style behind a lead vehicle on a public highway! The vehicles were able to maintain constant spacing. The test was conducted outside of Barcelona, Spain. The project is a joint venture among various European research groups and Volvo Car Corporation.

They covered 200 kilometers the first day and all went well. The cars had cameras, radar and laser sensors and mimicked the lead vehicle which had an actual driver. They drove 85 kilometers per hour with 6 meters between vehicles. The project is called SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) and was formed in 2009. They say the technology for autonomous driving has been thought of as science fiction when in fact the technology is already there. What are their goals?

• Improve comfort for drivers
• Improve traffic safety
• Lessen traffic jams
• Reduce fuel consumption

They feel that these “road trains” can save 20 percent in fuel. They also think this should work without the need for expensive infrastructure changes or expensive components in cars. They only needed wireless network software to make these Volvos in the “road train” different from cars available for sale today.

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