Is a driverless future nearer than we think? Swedish auto maker Volvo is testing out new technology that just might make it so.
Since the 1950’s automakers, universities, and high-tech companies, have been intrigued by the idea of cars that drive themselves. Now Volvo Trucks is working on a project- through a European consortium that combine a driver’s knowledge and experience with an automated driving system. SARTRE— which stands for Safe Road Trains for the Environment—uses a convoy style whereby the lead driver does all the driving for the vehicles following behind him. Vehicle platooning as it’s called—measures the distance, speed and direction of the car in front—and adjusts the other cars accordingly. Volvo cites a number of benefits from reduced fuel consumption to less road congestion. The technology has been tested successfully with one car following the lead vehicle, but public acceptance and legislative obstacles remain.
Not to be outdone, Google gets a leg up by passing a major driverless hurdle.
The company just made history by receiving the first license ever for a self-driving car system. Google’s modified Toyota Prius was given the green light after it passed several driving tests in Nevada. In order to be approved for road travel, an autonomous car must log a minimum of 10,000 miles and operators must present a detailed safety plan along with a complete description of their self-driving technology. However, not everyone is celebrating Google’s efforts. Privacy groups are trying to keep the self-driving cars off the road; they claim Google is collecting personal data such as the speed of the vehicle and its location – information Google says is necessary during the testing phase.
Google is looking to partner with an automaker to bring their project to fruition. The company says the self-driving car could on the road within a decade.