Hop On The Road Train

After an unforeseen 3 day break for festivities, I’m returning to my regular schedule of posting. To make up for the break, I’ll be posting two post on each day, starting with the 3 days I missed through this upcoming Friday.

With the first of my car related posts, I bring you a story from 2010 about road trains.

Source: Wired.com

The idea here is to avoid upgrading all the roads and highways around to world by implementing a road train system. In this system a licencesed vehicle, perhaps a bus or municipal truck, would broadcast a signal of its intended route. Once you input your destination to your car, it will attempt to map a route by joining road trains. If you happen to be going to the lead vehicle’s destination, then it’s perfect. You can join the train, let the car take over the driving, and sit back and play Angry Birds. If you’re just joining the train for a portion of the journey, you just exit the train when nearing your destination or are taking a different route.

There are a two main benefits that I see with a road train system:

  1. Safety: The lead vehicle will be driven by a professional, who will almost always be a safer driver than yourself. You already put your life in the hands of public transit bus drivers, and this would be no different. And since a computer controls the cars in the road train, your car’s reaction time is increased. Normally when someone in a long line of cars brakes, it takes several seconds for that signal to get to the last car in the line. With this system, all the cars would brake simultaneously. And in the road train, tail-gating would no longer be a safety concern. Now cars can draft safely, reducing fuel consumption.
  2. Feasibility: The road train systems is more feasible than any in-pavement driving systems. Modern cars are controlled via computers already. All you would need is a gadget that communicates with the road train and sends commands to your car’s computer to turn, accelerate, and brake.

So can this happen? Will we see road trains on our highways in the next few years? I’m not so sure. The project, called the European Union’s Safe Road Trains for the Environment (EU Sartre), planned to conduct tests by the end of this year. That’s based on a report from 2010, though. Since then, there doesn’t seem to have been very much news from the project.

If this system ever became a reality, there would be a lot of hurdles to jump, but I hope it does happen. It would definitely be a step forward for autonomous driving and a step closer to that driverless future we’ve hearing about for decades.

via Wired.com

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