A European project is working on a system that would allow cars to drive themselves, without needed any infrastructure changes or new technology.

The project, called ‘Safe Road Trains for the Environment’ or ‘Sartre’ for short, is an EU initiative co-ordinated by a UK based automotive engineering firm and involves the idea of road trains, where a lead vehicle, perhaps a truck or a bus or something similarly large, is followed by a short train of smaller vehicles that follow its lead automatically, allowing the passengers to relax until they get close to their destination, at which point they take control of their vehicles and drive as normal.

”The aim is to encourage the development of safe and environmentally effective roadtrains. By developing and implementing the technology at a vehicle level, Sartre aims to realise the potentially very significant safety and environmental benefits of road trains without the need to invest in changes to road infrastructure,” said co-ordinator Tom Robinson, of automotive engineering company Ricardo UK, which is based at Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex.

The road trains would be more fuel efficient, with energy savings of approximately 20% as the train makes use of slipstreams to reduce air resistance, and according to researchers they would be a major benefit to people who regularly cover long distances. Trials on the Sartre system begin on test tracks in the UK, Spain and Sweden in 2011

Source: The Telegraph

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