Volvo teamed up with Ricardo, a British technology company, to test out driverless vehicles on the public roads in Spain. The road train consisted of two Volvo trucks and three cars, where only the lead truck had a driver in it. The vehicles traveled for 200km among normal vehicles in Barcelona, and the test drive passed with flying colors.
The cars without the drivers used Volvo’s existing safety systems, such as cameras, radar, and laser sensors, to monitor the lead vehicle and its surroundings. Using Ricardo’s autonomous control, the driverless cars were able to mimic the lead vehicle when it came to accelerating, braking, and turning. The cars were traveling at 85 km/hr and were only six meters apart.
Linda Wahlström, Project Officer for SARTRE ( Safe Road Trains for the Environment) at Volvo, stated that:
We’ve learned a whole lot during this period. People think that autonomous driving is science fiction, but the fact is that the technology is already here. We’ve focused really hard on changing as little as possible in existing systems. Everything should function without any infrastructure changes to the roads or expensive additional components in the cars.
SARTRE has been an on-going project for Volvo. It’s recent test drive is a big step for the car manufacturer in moving forward.