Come on Ride the (Road) Train
If you’re excited for Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) driverless cars to hit the road, you might want to check out this new technology from Europe.
The European Union has sponsored an initiative called the Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) project. And engineers on the project designed a new way for cars to drive autonomously.
Like Google’s driverless cars, the SARTRE project relies on cameras, radar and laser sensors for cars to communicate with one another. But this system doesn’t use GPS to get each car from one location to another without driver interference.
Instead, cars line up behind a lead truck, which is operated by a professional driver. Once they’re linked up, the cars follow the leader’s actions independently, in single file.
As Volvo engineer, Stefan Solyom, demonstrates in the video, it’s as easy as sending a message to the lead driver, pulling up behind the line of cars and letting the car take over.
The system seems pretty straightforward. But making consumers let go of control when they’re just four meters away from the car in front of them might take a bit of convincing.
Still, since the technology isn’t quite as advanced as Google’s, it could act as a nice stopgap before true driverless cars are ready for primetime.