Volvo demonstrates SARTRE auto drive system

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Volvo has begun testing the SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) auto drive/convoy system at its proving ground near Gothenburg, Sweden.

The SARTRE system allows compatible cars to automatically follow a single 'lead' vehicle without the need for any driver input. This means only one driver, a professional in the lead vehicle, will be actually driving, while others will be platooning behind.

The idea behind the system is to give drivers the freedom to do other things on long journeys, improve fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions. Also, because SARTRE cars will be travelling in close proximity the system may also reduce congestion.

Volvo's test is the first time the system has been tested outside of a simulation. The platooning car was electronically tethered to the vehicle in front, constantly measuring distance, speed and direction of the leader and adjusting its movements to match.

When the system reaches production each vehicle in the convoy will be linked to the one in front, allowing for a fluid convoy.

Developments with the SARTRE technology are coming thick and fast, and it's expected to go into development in a few years.