Volvo's self-drive 'convoy' hits the Spanish motorway

Dec 8, 2004
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The project aims to herald a new age of relaxed driving


A convoy of self-driven cars has completed a 200km (125-mile) journey on a Spanish motorway, in the first public test of such vehicles.

The cars were wirelessly linked to each other and "mimicked" a lead vehicle, driven by a professional driver.

The so-called road train has been developed by Volvo. The firm is confident that they will be widely available in future.

The project aims to herald a new age of relaxed driving.

According to Volvo, drivers "can now work on their laptops, read a book or sit back and enjoy a relaxed lunch" while driving.

The road train test was carried out as part of a European Commission research project known as Sartre - Safe Road Trains for the Environment.

The convoy comprised three cars and one lorry.

Special features

"Driving among other road-users is a great milestone in our project. It was truly thrilling," says Linda Wahlstroem, project manager for the Sartre project at Volvo Car Corporation

"We covered 200km in one day and the test turned out well. We're really delighted," she added.

The cars are fitted with special features such as cameras, radar and laser sensors - allowing the vehicle to monitor the lead vehicle and also other vehicles in their immediate vicinity. Using wireless communication, the vehicles in the platoon "mimic" the lead vehicle using autonomous control - accelerating, braking and turning in exactly the same way as the leader.

The vehicles drove at 85kph (52mph) with the gap between each vehicle just 6m (19ft).

"People think that autonomous driving is science fiction, but the fact is that the technology is already here. From the purely conceptual viewpoint, it works fine and road train will be around in one form or another in the future," says Ms Wahlstroem.

"We've focused really hard on changing as little as possible in existing systems. Everything should function without any infrastructure changes to the roads or expensive additional components in the cars.

"Apart from the software developed as part of the project, it is really only the wireless network installed between the cars that set them apart from other cars available in showrooms today."

The three-year Sartre project has been under way since 2009. Other partners include UK car technology firm Ricardo UK, Tecnalia Research & Innovation of Spain, Institut fur Kraftfahrzeuge Aachen (IKA) of Germany and the Technical Research Institute of Sweden.

All told, the vehicles in the project have covered about 10,000km on test circuits.

The eventual aim of the project is to have lots of cars "slaved" to a lead vehicle and travelling at high speed along specific routes on motorways.

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NuttyJim

Registered User
Feb 18, 2006
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#2
Once skynet is up and running this will no longer be a problem
 

lajikal

Registered User
Aug 6, 2009
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#3
The whole notion of traveling somewhere other than sightseeing/exploring is getting real old and retarded.
 

Bluestreak

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Sep 27, 2007
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#4
The whole notion of traveling somewhere other than sightseeing/exploring is getting real old and retarded.
Right. Because no one needs to get to work, or travel for any reason.
:rolleyes:
 

d0uche_n0zzle

**Negative_Creep**
Sep 15, 2004
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#6
Pffft, 19 feet apart. It should be 19 inches apart to maximize the draft.
 

whiskeyguy

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#7
So these "slave" cars mimic a lead car? What happens if the driver in the lead car crashes?
 

bb1mobile

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Jul 10, 2007
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#8
19 feet. Never work here. Some asshole will
pull into that space. Hell, they try and do it when
the space is 2 feet smaller than their cars.
 

Stig

Making America So Great You Won't Believe It.
Jul 26, 2005
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#9
So these "slave" cars mimic a lead car? What happens if the driver in the lead car crashes?
Relaxation, followed by shock and alarm, and then injury and/or death.
 

Hudson

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Didn't they test them a few years ago in the California desert or something?
I'd like to take a ride in one of these:
 

Bluestreak

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Sep 27, 2007
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#11
19 feet. Never work here. Some asshole will
pull into that space. Hell, they try and do it when
the space is 2 feet smaller than their cars.
The DOT will probably force some sort of lighting or signal to mark which vehicles are running in the train, and make it a moving violation if caught interfering with the train.
I can only imagine what Massholes will do to these trains on the highway.
 

Party Rooster

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Hudson

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CougarHunter

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#19
As someone that doesn't even like automatic transmissions, I don't like the looks of this.....
 

VMS

Victim of high standards and low personal skills.
Apr 26, 2006
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#20
I swear to COW it was in the news 4 or 5 years ago..and it wasn't Google.....It was on one of the science shows on TLC, google might have bought it out.
Eh. They've been testing this stuff in one form or the other for a fairly long time. Virginia Tech built a Smart Road back in '99/2000 that had sensors built into the road, both for robot cars and for testing road conditions.

People have been playing around with various auto-drive systems for years. The technology isn't really all that startling: it's just getting over the regulatory hurdles and easing the public's fears.
 

lajikal

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Aug 6, 2009
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#21
Didn't they test them a few years ago in the California desert or something?
I'd like to take a ride in one of these:
Yeah that was on a baja off-road track. They've also been testing this one.
[yt]J17Qgc4a8xY[/yt]
 

Hate & Discontent

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Aug 22, 2005
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#23
Caltrans has been using a system in the Sierras that automatically guides their plows in heavy snowstorms using magnets embedded in the roadway. According to this article, it's been in service since 2000.

http://www.path.berkeley.edu/PATH/Research/blower/
I remember years ago (probably around 2000-2002) hearing about tests on a freeway in California of that same system, and seeing video of 3-4 cars in a convoy. Interesting to see that it actually got used for something.