Have you ever been driving in rush hour and wished you could just zone out and read a book during your trip instead of stressing about the traffic? Well, the EU is testing a way to make that possible while cutting fuel consumption at the same time. The idea is that eight vehicles would travel as one "train," linked by wireless sensors. It's believed that the system, called Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE), could cut fuel use by 20 percent for cars traveling in the trains.
Each road train would be controlled by a lead vehicle driven by a professional driver. All other drivers in the train would be passengers able to take their hands off the wheel and enjoy the ride. Sensors would collect and send information to the lead vehicle about what was happening around each of the cars. Cars, buses and trucks would all be able to join a train and could leave at any time.
The SARTRE project will be conducted for three years on test tracks in the UK, Spain and Sweden and eventually on public roads in Spain. Some specifics will have to be sorted out like how exactly vehicles will join and leave the trains, how the trains will signal to other cars that they're traveling as one and how to ensure a safe organization of vehicles (e.g. not allowing cars to be sandwiched by large trucks).
Ultimately researchers see the road trains being a paid service for drivers.
written by inexplicablyNic, November 12, 2009
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