Could self driving cars be the future of motoring?

Posted on 20 June 2012 by Tony Santos

Self Driving CarIt’s a familiar story – a great weekend away or night out with mates is ruined by a stupidly long drive to get there, or get back home, but would you feel comfortable kicking back and letting your motor drive itself?

Volvo has recently been trialling its innovative road train, which features a lead vehicle, manned by a driver, and several motors in convoy behind. Using cutting-edge wireless technology the road train travelled down a Spanish highway, reaching speeds of more than 50mph.

The world’s very first road train consisted of a Volvo XC60, a Volvo S60, a Volvo V60 and a truck.

The wireless technology takes the movements of the lead vehicle, including steering and braking, and transfers this to the motors following, ensuring each vehicle takes exactly the same route – so effectively, the cars are driving themselves.

Footage we’ve seen on Youtube from the experiment shows drivers enjoying reading magazines and playing on iPads while their vehicle motors on down the highway.

Commenting on the road train, project manager for SARTRE at Volvo Linda Wahlstrom said that while autonomous driving may seem like something out of sci-fi, the technology “is already here”.

There are clear issues with rolling this out onto public roads – for a start, anyone with broadband in their home will know that wireless isn’t always reliable, and even a small blip in signal could cause disaster in a fleet.

Also, it’s difficult to see how it could actually be used large scale. How many people driving a route are going to be heading to exactly the same spot? Who is going to drive the lead vehicles?

We are also wondering how the laws around drinking and driving would fit in with this new technology – would being in your car while over the limit, even if it was driving itself, be breaking the law?

Still, it’s a pretty cool example of how to push the boundaries of technology, and could certainly be useful for those evenings when the drive home seems particularly unappealing.

This technology is still quite a long way off, so you will have to reply on your own steam for now! The Sat Nav Company sells a range of systems to give you a helping hand in navigating your way to your destination…but unfortunately you’ll still have to do some of the work yourself! Visit their website at today.

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