DRIVER DISTRACTION A THING OF THE PAST?

Landmark Driver Technology Set to Reduce Road Traffic Accidents and Increase Fuel Efficiency Could be on Europes Roads Within a Decade

GOTHENBURG, Sweden, 17th September 2012, PRNewswire : The latest test drive marks the final chapter in a three year long project which has seen the development of the next step in autonomous driving technology. Since 2009, Volvo Car Corporation has been the driving force behind the EU funded SARTRE project (Safe Road-Trains for the Environment), bringing vehicle platooning technology one step closer to becoming a reality on Europe’s roads.

Vehicle platooning aims to improve safety, efficiency, mileage, and travel time whilst relieving traffic congestion and decreasing pollution. The technology – which could be seen on our motorways within a decade – allows the driver to join a ‘road train’ lead by one professional driver. 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. Once in the platoon, drivers can relax and take in the scenery, read or catch up on work whilst the platoon proceed towards its destination. SARTRE is the only project of its kind to focus on the development of technology that can be implemented on conventional motorways without any change to current infrastructure.

Volvo Car Corporation predicts this type of technology will create significant improvements to traffic flow and journey times, as well as environmental benefits with energy saving potential of up to 20% on journeys. Additionally SARTRE offers significant safety benefits. Although fatalities due to road traffic accidents on Europe’s roads have decreased over the last decade, there is still a way to go with a recent report revealing the EU’s roads saw over 30,000 fatalities in 20111. The Swedish car maker has pledged that by 2020 they will have eliminated deaths or serious injuries in new Volvo cars and the technology developed as part of the SARTRE project brings the company one step closer to recognising this ambition.

The long term vision of the SARTRE project has been to create a transport system where booking, joining and exiting a road train will be a smoother experience than leaving your car behind and using public transport on long distance trips. With this final demonstration of the technology on the road, the stage is now set to set in motion the necessary steps that will see legislation being passed in order for this revolutionary technology to be seen on Europe’s roads.

Speaking about the SARTRE project, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research and Innovation said:

“This technology is a promising example of an innovative approach to making transport greener, safer and smarter. Sometimes we need to look beyond business as usual to arrive at sustainable solutions. That is why we have proposed nearly 7 billion euro for smart, green and integrated transport research in our future research programme, Horizon 2020.”

Tomorrow’s driving future may soon become a reality.

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1http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/specialist/statistics
/index_en.htm