EU launches road train project

Sit back and put your feet up

The EU is looking at introducing ‘road trains’ in Europe to cut fuel consumption and traffic congestion.

The Safe Road Trains for the Environment (Sartre) project envisages road trains consisting of up to eight vehicles – a mix of cars, buses and trucks.

The vehicles will be equipped with a navigation system and a transmitter/receiver unit that communicates with a lead vehicle driven by a professional. Everybody else could sit back and read the paper, or possibly just wallow in a bit of existential angst.

The Sartre project will run for three years, and will involve trials run in the UK, Spain and Sweden next year.

“I do appreciate that many people feel this sounds like Utopia. However, this type of autonomous driving actually doesn’t require any hocus-pocus technology, and no investment in infrastructure,” says Erik Coelingh, technical director of Active Safety Functions at Volvo Cars. 

“Instead, the emphasis is on development and on adapting technology that is already in existence. In addition, we must carry out comprehensive testing to verify our high demands on safety.”

The planners say the concept could cut fuel consumption by up to 20 percent, thanks to lower air drag.