Leave the Driving to SARTRE

The Volvo Trucks model FH is designed for the long haul.

The Volvo Trucks model FH is designed for the long haul. It features a 13-liter DC13C turbocharged inline six-cylinder diesel engine available in four variants from 420 to 540 hp. It can be equipped with a 12-speed I-Shift automatic transmission. It has a cabin that is like a small, comfortable room.

So, given its long-haul nature, it was used to lead a road train in Spain as part of the European Union-funded SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project. The train included three Volvo cars and another Volvo truck. The vehicles sped along outside of Barcelona at speeds of up to 85 km/h (52.8 mph) with just 6 m (19.7 ft) between each vehicle. The distance keeping and precise following is predicated on radar and other sensors in the vehicles; there is autonomous braking and turning of the vehicles, predicated on what the lead truck is doing.

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The following drivers can actually do things other than driving while part of the platoon. Read Being and Nothingness, perhaps. And hope they are the former, not the latter.

One of the objectives is to reduce fuel use because the following vehicles are so close behind the lead truck, they are “drafting” it, just like in a NASCAR race. (No bumping or trading paint, however.)

Another goal is safer driving, with the driver of the lead truck safely leading the way and the other vehicles mimicking that behavior.

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