Self-Driving Cars Take A Step Closer To Reality

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Autonomous or ‘self-driving’ cars have been around for a while, at least in prototype form. In fact, just this week we reported on Audi’s autonomous TTS, which successfully charted the grueling 12.42 mile Pikes Peak run.

However, about a year ago we reported on a government-backed initiative in Europe called SARTRE (SAfe Road TRains for the Environment), which was being launched to develop and test technology for vehicles that can drive themselves in long road trains on highways. The technology has the potential to improve traffic flow and journey times, offer greater comfort to drivers, reduce accidents, and improve fuel consumption and hence lower CO2 emissions.

Today the initiative has announced that it has completed one year of the three year program and is now aiming at carrying out the first development tests of a single lead and following vehicle before the end of the year.

Most of the first year has been busy with the concept phase, which has involved a seven partner consortium that includes automaker Volvo. The next phase will involve the installation of the necessary hardware into 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.

[SARTRE, Volvo]
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Comments (7)
  1. so you're following a bus, does that mean you stop every mile?
    and when the truck you have followed for an hour takes the exit ramp, who takes over the responcibility of leading?
    what if someone tries to cut in? will my insurance company accept i took no evasive action because i was watchin a Harry Potter movie?

  2. will you be able to drink drive??

  3. Yea, have you SEEN how so called "professional drivers" drive lately? I love how the article uses a bus as an example too...truck driver OK maybe, but a bus driver? Those guys are psychopaths and absolutely the least safe drivers on the road by and large. Think Im gonna keep my fate in my own hands, thank you. LOL @ the sheep who "like" this.

  4. I think Google's car is more smarter than this Self-Driving Cars tech

  5. The only way computerized driving will work in the end is iether restrict the hours non computerized cars can use the road to low traffic periods or ban non computerized cars alltogether. Unless non self driving vehicles are restricted they will have no benefit to overall traffic flow as it only takes one bad driver to ruin the flow of traffic. Since either scenario is unlikely I think it will still be many years before we see self driving cars outside a few select luxury vehicles.
    That being said, self driving cars would pretty much eliminate car accidents after the first few year and a few software revisions to work out the kinks. Most people think they can drive better than they do, we are all guilty of sometimes driving tired or angry and it has a remarkable impact on our driving performance. A computer will always act within it's programing and will never make mistakes as long as it is coded properly. People on the other hand are stupid and make mistakes all the time putting themselves and others at risk on a frequent basis.
    Although I don't think it will happen soon, I look forward to the day where my car drives itself and I no longer have to worry about dodging drunk and stupid drivers on my way to work every weekend. (I work nights)

  6. @Dave: There's a video that they've posted, available here among other places:
    The people working on this are clearly smart people who are not naive about the challenges facing their project, and are considering the many human variables that can happen in real world traffic.

  7. what happens when three of these trains bunch up, and pass an on ramp with multiple backed up cars...Then its going to stop the on ramp traffic, causing more traffic? The insurance liability is also questionable. What self employed driver would equip his truck with a lead car system? Pay for the extra insurance? None. PIE IN THE SKY

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