Are You Ready For the Road Train?

The European Union’s “SAfe Road TRains for the Environment” (SARTRE) initiative kicked off last year, promising to ease traffic congestion and improve fuel economy while making highway travel safer and more convenient … by taking drivers out of the equation.

SARTRE’s utopian vision has drivers commuting to work while reading a book, catching up on work emails, or (more likely) updating their Facebook page while their car is controlled by a wireless connection to a proposed “lead” vehicle, which SARTRE envisions as a semi truck, bus, or other professionally-driven vehicle (presumable one large enough to carry and power said wireless equipment).

Despite all the potential advantages and the novel solution (which requires minimal infrastructure to implement), it all sounds pretty scary to me, and when I first read about SARTRE it didn’t seem like they’d get much support.

How wrong I was!

After just one year of developing the concept and countless simulator runs, SARTRE – with official backing from both the EU, Ricardo, Volvo, and others – plans to begin real-world testing before the end of this year (so, in the next 3 weeks).  Development and testing is set to continue through 2012, with up to 5 cars “in the train”.

You can learn more about the proposed SARTRE system by enlarging the infographic (above), or watching the Volvo-provided/produced video, here.  Enjoy!

Source:  EU SARTRE, via Wired/Autopia.


Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.