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Volvo’s autonomous vehicle SARTRE project

Volvo SARTRE project

We’ve talked about autonomous cars on our blog before, today we’re going to do it again, but instead of Google being the company that we’re talking about, we’ll be talking about Volvo.

The Swedish car maker has taken a different approach than the American one, they’re not making individual autonomous vehicles, instead they’re looking at it as a collective, making an autonomous road train of cars.

The first public test of the SARTRE project, which stands for Safe Road Trains for the Environment, was successfully completed along a motorway in Spain, outside of Barcelona.

Volvo’s idea is for the road train to be lead by a vehicle driven by a professional driver, which is then followed by a number of driverless vehicles, each of them outfitted with Volvo’s Car Corporation’s and Volvo Technology’s already existing safety systems. These systems include cameras, radar and laser sensors which monitor various variables in the lead car as well as other vehicles in its immediate area. The ‘train’ will then communicate these variable with each other via a wireless network so that all the vehicles in the train can copy the speed and movement of the lead car.

The test train was made up of one lead vehicle followed by a Volvo S60, Volvo V60, Volvo XC60 as well as a truck, travelling at 85km/h with a distance between each of them of six metres.

Volvo has said that the goal behind their (partly) autonomous road train is to deliver an increased level of comfort for drivers, improve traffic safety in general as well as reducing the environmental impact and reducing the risk of traffic back-ups.

The SARTRE project was started in 2009 and has covered about ten thousand kilometers since then. With this latest test drive it has proven the efficiency of an autonomous convoy lead by a professional driver, in a mixed traffic environment on a major European motorway.

The next phase of the project will focus on analyzing the fuel consumption rates following this successful Spanish test.

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