Cars That Drive Themselves Cars That Drive Themselves
Design

Cars That Drive Themselves

by Andrew Price

November 12, 2009
Wouldn't it be nice to get in your car and be able to read the news or take a nap without the constant stress of actually operating the vehicle? Well, the driverless car, an idea that's been germinating since the 1980s, is getting a little closer to reality thanks to an E.U. project called SARTRE (the acronym stands for Safe Road Trains for the Environment-no apparent connection to existential philosophy, except that you'd have more time for it).As envisioned, the SARTRE system would wirelessly link a line of six to eight cars behind a professionally-driven lead vehicle like, well, the cars of a train. On the road, an in-car navigation system would let you know what convoys were nearby and where they were going. You could elect to join one of these convoys and then hand over the controls so your car just follows the lead driver. When you need to leave the convoy, you just move into a different lane and start driving again.
The E.U. estimates that a working SARTRE system would save up to 20 percent on fuel use from the drafting effect alone (following behind a truck reduces drag on the other cars) and would make for a more efficient use of highway capacity. Their press release also highlights the fact that this system could be integrated into the current highway system without any infrastructure overhauls. They're planning to have test vehicles by 2011.No, it's not zero-impact transportation. Assuming these were all fossil-fuel cars, it would be a marginal improvement. But if you didn't have to drive yourself on long trips you could always spend the free time lobbying for better bike lanes or high-speed rail.Via Inhabitat.
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Cars That Drive Themselves