We came across a great article this week on The Atlantic Cities, exploring the future of car commuting, and in particular, the development of the ‘road train’ – a semi-autonomous highway platoon that follows the movements of a human-driven lead car.
A trial for the road train was conducted in June outside Barcelona, Spain, in a convoy of five vehicles traveling over 150km at speeds in excess of 70km/h, whilst keeping a uniform 20-foot distance between vehicles. It was the first time the road train had operated on a public roadway with other road users.
The road train operates with a combination of technology – radar, lasers, and cameras embedded in safety features – and wireless communication to stitch together a convoy of up to 15 cars; following the acceleration, braking and turning of the lead vehicle. Cars can join the convoy if they are equipped with the software program; and become autonomous until their drivers manually detach them. Meanwhile, apparently, drivers are free to do whatever they want as their car operates itself!
According to the author, the road train is a fantastic transport compromise – the independent flexibility of a car with the efficiency of mass transit, delivering reduced congestion and more efficient fuel consumption. View a video of the first trial of the road train below.