The SARTRE Project 0

How SARTRE will workFirstly SARTRE stands for Safe Road Trains for the Environment. It’s a European Government Initiative which is at present being developed, with many different partners involved.
In a nutshell, it’s a unique piece of technology to allow a type of Road Cluster for cars which allows them to follow a lead vehicle automatically. Once following, cars are being controlled by the lead vehicle allowing drivers to do as they wish, whether that that be read books, use their laptop, watch films etc.

How does it work exactly? As mentioned before, a lead vehicle patrols it’s convey (or platoon as some mention)  from the front, leading up to 6-8 vehicles. The lead vehicle is being manually driven by a professional driver. It controls vehicles behind via wireless radio communication to the system already built within the cars themselves.  If cars wish to join the road train cluster, they simply slot themselves into the rear of the queue and the lead vehicle then takes controls of their car. When drivers are approaching their destination, they are able to resume control of their car and pull out of the convey. The gap left by the exiting vehicles is then filled up with the cars coming closer together.

What are the aims of SARTRE Project? It’s to revolutionise the way people drive, offering personal, congestion, safety and environmental benefits. When driving a car, it is obvious to say that it is unsafe to read a newspaper, watch a film, have a drink etc. With this new technology being implemented, the possibility of carrying out these activities whilst in your driver’s seat is now possible! Environmental benefits according to SARTRE include 20% (estimated) reduction on emissions with vehicles travelling at steady speeds, also giving better fuel efficiency too.  Safety advantages sounded out would include fewer accidents which could have been due to driver errors. Congestion would also be minimised due to smoother traffic flows throughout the roads.

We won’t see the launch of SARTRE for a long time, as there is a lot of work still to be done. But what has been done so far? Software is already out there which allows vehicles to be controlled externally, for cruise control and braking. The next stage is to allow cars to actually communicate doing this, which Volvo tested in early 2011. In Sweden, a Volvo S60 was following a lead vehicle where the driver of the car was indeed not in control of it. Images showed that the driver was reading a newspaper and also using a laptop whilst the car was being driven.

The question is would motorists feel safe if their car was being controlled by an external source? How will road users actually take to this? How will it be implemented and will it be accepted by countries throughout the EU?

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