Sunday, January 2, 2011

SARTRE Road Train Technology

Safe road trains for the environment (SARTRE) is a road traffic improvement project which envisages a futuristic road transportation and mobility concept in Europe. Non-commercial car journeys account for about 80% of car travel on the continent.

About 81% of passenger and 44% of goods transportation happens by road, leading to traffic congestions and high levels of fuel consumption. Road vehicles are responsible for about 28% of the CO2 emissions in the EU.

The European Commission (EC) is the executive body of the European Union responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and day-to-day running of the EU.

Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) is a European Commission (EC)  under the Framework 7 programme, aims to investigate and trial technologies to allow vehicle platoons to operate on normal public highways with significant environmental, safety and comfort benefits, and strategies for the safe platooning of road vehicles, a transportation concept in which several vehicles are electronically linked together in a "road train", with only the lead driver in active control.

Sartre is led by Ricardo UK Ltd and comprises a collaboration between the following additional participating companies: Idiada and Robotiker-Tecnalia of Spain, Institut for Kraftfahrwesen Aachen (IKA) of Germany, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Volvo Car Corporation and Volvo Technology of Sweden.

The project aims for SARTRE Road Train Technology

The aim of the project is to encourage a step change in personal transport usage by developing of environmental roadtrains called platoons, to develop prototype systems to aid the development of platooning for eventual use on unmodified public motorways, interacting with non-platooned traffic. The project was formally launched in September 2009, with an intended duration of three years. The EU hopes the use of platooning on European roads would cut fuel consumption, journey times, and congestion, to mitigate environmental impact and traffic congestion, as well as enhance efficiency and driver comfort in personal transportation through the use of safe environmental road trains or platoons. The technology allows individual vehicles to form road trains on the public motorways, where a single active driver operates the entire platoon through electronic linkage between them.

Proposed system for SARTRE Road Train Technology

Systems will be developed facilitating the safe adoption of road trains on un-modified public highways with interaction with other traffic.

A scheme will be developed whereby a lead vehicle with a professional driver will take responsibility for a platoon. Following vehicles will enter a semi-autonomous control mode that allows the driver of the following vehicle to do other things that would normally be prohibited for reasons of safety; for example, operate a phone, reading a book or watching a movie.

The SARTRE platooning system envisages a platoon of up to eight vehicles linked electronically, with the lead vehicle controlled by a professional driver, controlling in turn those following, as slave vehicles. Aimed at commuters in cars, but also possibly commercial vehicles and buses, drivers would be able to join and leave the platoon at will. To keep costs down, the technology for the system is to be achieved through off the shelf components, and specifically without requiring costly changes to highway infrastructure.

Volvo safe road train technology :

Funding and participants for SARTRE Road Train Technology

The SARTRE project is run as a consortium, funded by the European Commission under their Seventh Framework Programme. The consortium is led by the British company Ricardo UK.Other participating organisations are:

  • Applus IDIADA (Spain)
  • Institut für Kraftfahrwesen Aachen (IKA) (Germany)
  • Robotiker-Tecnalia (Spain)
  • SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden
  • Volvo Car Corporation (Sweden)
  • Volvo Technology (Sweden)

Trials for SARTRE Road Train Technology

Test track trials of SARTRE platooning are to take place in the UK, Spain, and Sweden, with an eventual public road trial in Spain. In January 2011 the first successful trial took place at Volvo's test track in Sweden, in which a single car was slaved behind a rigid truck. With control being taken by the truck, the driver of the slaved car was able to take his hands off the wheel, read a newspaper, and sip coffee.

The three-year project was launched in September 2009 and will be completed in September 2012.

SARTRE Road Train Concept


A new EU project SARTRE is being launched to develop and test technology for vehicles that can drive themselves in long road trains on motorways. This technology has the potential to improve traffic flow and journey times, offer greater comfort to drivers, reduce accidents, and improve fuel consumption and hence lower CO2 emissions.

2012 Volvo - The SARTRE road train video

2012 Volvo - SARTRE road train on public road (A-roll)

Read more of SARTRE Road Train Technology...