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SARTRE consortium tests automotive “platooning”

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

If it goes after SARTRE project coordinator Tom Robinson from automotive supplier Ricardo, platooning may be the new way of travelling on motorways in the not so distant future. "Platooning offers the prospect of improved road safety, better road space utilization, improved driver comfort on long journeys and reduced fuel consumption and hence CO2 emissions", Robinson said.

In the context of the project, each car measures the distance, speed and direction and adjusts to the car in front. All vehicles are totally detached and can leave the procession at any time. But once in the platoon, drivers can relax and do other things while the platoon proceeds towards its long haul destination. The tests carried out included a lead vehicle and single following car. The steering wheel of the following car moves by itself as the vehicle smoothly follows the lead truck around the country road test track. The driver is able to drink coffee or read a paper, using neither hand nor foot to operate his vehicle.

Platooning is designed to improve a number of things: Firstly road safety, since it minimises the human factor that is the cause of at least 80 percent of the road accidents. Secondly, it saves fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions with up to 20 percent. It is also convenient for the driver because it frees up time for other matters than driving. And since the vehicles will travel in highway speed with only a few meters gap, platooning may also relieve traffic congestion, the group believes.

At the first go, the test proved to be a success in that the technology worked well. “We are very pleased to see that the various systems work so well together already the first time,” says Erik Coelingh, engineering specialist at Volvo Cars. “After all, the systems come from seven SARTRE-member companies in four countries."

The next technology step will be developing a communications system working in parallel to the currently used car-to-car technology. The parallel system will likely be based in 3G.

According to SARTRE; The technology development is well underway and can most likely go into production in a few years time. What may take substantially longer are the public acceptance and the legislation where 25 EU governments must pass similar laws.

In the SARTRE project; seven partners from four countries collaborate: SP Technical Research of Sweden, Ricardo plc from UK, Idiada and Robotiker-Tecnalia Technology Center of Spain, Institut für Kraftfahrwesen Aachen (IKA) of Germany, and Volvo Car Corporation and Volvo Technology of Sweden.

 

 


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