Technology allowing cars to be linked together as a semi-autonomous ‘train’ has undergone testing in Sweden.
The trial, which took place at Volvo’s test track near Gothenburg, saw a single car docked to a lorry via a platooning system.
The Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SATRE) system, backed by EU funding, works by attaching cars to a lead vehicle - usually a lorry - which takes control of the ‘drone’ vehicles via a computerised link facilitated by in-car controls.
The lead vehicle is then able to steer, speed up and slow down all vehicles connected to it, allowing drivers to relax whilst on the move. The hope is that the SATRE will save on fuel, aid safety and cut traffic congestion.
It has been estimated that the system could cut accidents by up to 80 per cent and improve emission levels by 20 per cent.
Eric Coelingh, an engineering specialist at Volvo Cars and trial participant, said of the tests: "We are very pleased to see that the various systems work so well together already the first time."
Coelingh explained that the system brings together technology from seven firms in four different countries.
Engineering firm Ricardo’s SATRE co-ordinator has hailed the test as a “major milestone” for the system.
Researchers currently estimate that SATRE could be launched on European roads within a decade, but this depends on how quickly EU member states pass legislation allowing it to be used. Ricardo also acknowledge that public acceptance of SATRE and insurance and liability issues could also play a part in slowing the system from getting on the road.
A video of the trial can be found here.