The future is coming, whether we like it or not. We’ve seen cars that drive themselves in various science fiction movies, but it seems that Volvo, alongside a few other companies and the European Union is working on actually creating them, with testing to begin in 2011 and production-ready models in 2015.
Now for the details of the matter: the Volvo Car Corporation, alongside Volvo Technology and SP Technical Research Institute (from Sweden), Ricardo UK Ltd (from the UK), Idiada and Robotiker-Tecnalia (Spain) and Institut fur Kraftfahrwesen – IKA (Germany), together with the EU, are working on a new type of technology which will not only drive the car itself, but also reduce car accidents, lower CO2 emissions and improve fuel averages.
How is it done you might ask, well it seems that it is all based on an auto train, as a professional driver will lead a convoy, in a bus or any other vehicle, and other drivers with the same destination will be able to put it into the navigation system which will lead them to the closes auto train. He will then be able to enter said train and the system will take over all of the driving, while he can do whatever he pleases, like read a newspaper or watch TV.
When he is approaching the destination, the car will warn him and he will take over, leaving the train and going into his desired direction. The cars behind him will close the gap and everything will happen without any intervention from the other drivers. Those who wish the join the convoy will just signal their intention and connect to the last vehicle.
All of the systems necessary for such a strategy will be standard in every car, meaning that anyone will be able to join these convoys. You can view a higher resolution picture of the model here.
Overall, it seems like a pretty interesting idea, but let’s just wait for the tests to start in the next few years before claiming that this is the car future we have been expecting. What do you think about this initiative? Share your view by leaving a comment.