The EU-funded SARTRE project (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) is aimed at enabling groups of cars to act together in an automated “road train”.
It creates numerous benefits, summed up by SARTREs project coordinator: "This is a major milestone for this important European research programme. Platooning offers the prospect of improved road safety, better road space utilisation, 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 realisation of safe and effective road train technology."
After successful simulations, an initial demonstration was successfully conducted at Volvo’s test track in Sweden with a Volvo truck and S60. The driver following was able to drink coffee and read a newspaper as no operation of the steering wheel, hand or foot controls were required.
It is hoped that in the near future many vehicles could be united behind one professional driver led vehicle. Each vehicle aligns direction, speed and distance with the vehicle ahead. While in convoy, although completely detached from the other vehicles, any driver following can relax until they are ready to take another road.
The main stumbling block will be the Eurozone, as 25 EU governments will need to pass similar legislation to enable the project to become a reality but with so many benefits it is something that needs to be made reality sooner rather than later.