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Sartre Car Platoon Road Tests to Begin

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Carl Bergenhem of SP

Drivers would cede some control when their cars join a platoon of semi-autonomous vehicles envisioned by the SARTRE project, studied here by Carl Bergenhem of SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden.

Credit: Lennart Magnusson /

The Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) project in Europe has begun to integrate software and hardware into two vehicles that will be used in its first on-road tests before the end of the year. The project's researchers are developing a wireless system that will enable vehicles on public roads to join in a platoon, or a semi-autonomous road train of vehicles, with a professional driver at the front. Vehicles would be able to join and leave the platoon at any point. However, while in the platoon, the vehicles will become part of the train. A computer will take over steering, braking, and acceleration, and drivers will be able do other activities such as eat breakfast, read a book, operate their computer, or talk on their phone. The lead vehicle in the platoon would follow a set route and speed.

SARTRE, a three-year project working toward a five-vehicle convoy over the next two years, will help validate the sensors, actuators, and control system developed for the project. However, the researchers say that a fully operational system is likely another decade away. They say that such a system would improve traffic flow, reduce journey times, save fuel, and reduce traffic accidents.

View a video of the project aimed at creating road-train convoys for traffic of the future.

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