Video: Volvo Tests Self-Driving Cars In Europe

Volvo platooning image

Wouldn’t it be nice to commute to work without having to navigate through gridlock like Frogger? Technology being developed by Volvo and other European companies might make that scenario a reality.

Recently, Volvo’s “road train” entered real-world testing near Gothenburg, Sweden. This technology allows cars to automatically follow professionally-driven lead cars in a “platoon.” This system of follow-the-leader may be an important step in reducing accidents and traffic congestion without the need to modify highways.

“We are very pleased to see that the various systems work so well together already the first time,” says Erik Coelingh, engineering specialist at Volvo Cars. “After all, the systems come from seven SARTRE-member companies in four countries. The winter weather provided some extra testing of cameras and communication equipment.”

Using advanced steering and sensory technology, cars driving in the platoon automatically monitor the distance, speed and direction of the car immediately in front and mimic its actions. Drivers can therefore enjoy a cup of coffee or read a newspaper while their vehicle pilots itself.

“This is a major milestone for this important European research programme,” says Tom Robinson, SARTRE project coordinator, of Ricardo UK Ltd. “Platooning offers the prospect of improved road safety, better road space utilization, improved driver comfort on long journeys and reduced fuel consumption and hence CO2 emissions. With the combined skills of its participating companies, SARTRE is making tangible progress towards the realization of safe and effective road train technology.”

According to SARTRE, road trains could dramatically curb rear-end collisions, cut emissions by up to 20 percent, and by allowing cars to travel closer together, traffic congestion may also be eased.

If testing continues to go well, the technology may be ready for production within just a few years. The biggest delays may ultimately be public acceptance and local legislation, so you probably won’t be seeing it at the Volvo Dealer in Hillsborough or other dealers any time soon.

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