Road Train Technology Tests Underway Before the End of 2010

Monday, 6 December 2010
Have you ever thought what our roads will look like in one hundred years time? Well stay tuned because the future could be much closer than you think.

New technology is currently being developed that could allow you to join a computer controlled congo line and operate your car on auto-pilot.

The EU SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project is now one year into its three year project and is already aiming to carry out the first development tests of a single lead and following vehicle before the end of 2010. 

SARTRE stands for Safe Road Trains for the Environment. Part-funded by the European Commission.

The project aims to develop and demonstrate road train technologies that enable improvements in traffic flow and faster journey times, offering greater comfort to drivers, reducing accidents and improving fuel consumption, hence lowering CO2 emissions.  

SARTRE will see the development of safe environmental road trains (platoons). Systems are being developed in prototype form that will facilitate the safe adoption of road trains on un-modified public highways with full interaction with non-platoon vehicles.

Most of the first year has been busy with the concept phase, which has involved the seven partner consortium investigating the basic principles of a feasible platooning system. Issues investigated have included usage cases, human factors and behaviours associated with platooning, core system parameters, and specification of prototype architecture and applications.

In addition to providing some highly thought-provoking and useful results in its own right, this essential groundwork has enabled the team to move on to the start of the implementation phase which will see the start of vehicle testing.

The SARTRE team is currently aiming to carry out the first development tests of a single lead and following vehicle before the end of 2010.

This first iteration of the SARTRE architecture will involve installation of the necessary hardware into the two vehicles, implementation of vehicle- to-vehicle communications, incorporation and integration of sensors, and low level actuator and lateral and longitudinal control of the following vehicle.
The crucial software integration needed for driving automation has already commenced, and the first tests of a two vehicle train are expected to take place before the end of December.

Subsequent phases of the work to be carried out in 2011 and early 2012 will see the concept demonstrated on a five-vehicle road train with strategies handling interaction with other road users.
The designers of SARTRE have conducted simulator-based testing at Tecnalia, Bilbao, Spain, in which human factors in the implementation of road train technology have been investigated.

This simulation work has enabled the team to assess in detail the response of drivers both while participating in road trains and while driving independently in an environment in which road trains are operating.
Further coverage is shown of some of the sensor and actuator development work and of the control architecture design that will support the implementation phase over the coming months.

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