Motorway driving just got a hell of a lot safer--and a hell of a lot more terrifying at the same time. Volvo has successfully demonstrated a vehicle road-train system that allows cars to drive themselves in convoy on the motorway.
The demonstration, part of an EU-financed Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE--PDF link) project, proved that drivers in a Volvo "platoon" can relinquish control to the car, enjoying a spot of coffee, surfing the Internet, or even having a snooze while they're ferried to their destination.
SARTRE platoons are guided by a lead vehicle, which is driven by a professional driver. This car is followed by a succession of other, computer-controlled cars that are electronically tethered in the convoy. Each vehicle in the platoon measures the distance, speed, and direction of the vehicle directly in front, adjusting its movements to stay in formation.
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