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Meanwhile in Spain: driverless robotic cars on the roads

The demonstration of the capabilities was carried out as part of a project known as Sartre (SARTRE) and in Hebrew - safe road trains for the environment

A car without a driver in the SARTRE project. Screenshot from the video
A Volvo model car without a driver in the SARTRE project. Screenshot from the video

If we had been driving on the roads of Spain in the last month, we might have come across a strange sight: four vehicles driving one after the other, at regular intervals as if measured by a ruler. When one of the vehicles slowed down, the others also slowed down, in perfect coordination with each other. When the first car overtook another car, all the other three would follow and make the exact same overtaking. And the most surprising thing is that the cars held human passengers - but they did not touch the steering wheel at all. They were busy with more substantial activities, such as reading a newspaper, drinking coffee and watching a video.

These four vehicles created the first robotic road train, which will change the world.

The demonstration of the capabilities was carried out as part of a project known as Sartre (SARTRE) and in Hebrew - safe road trains for the environment. The project aims to deal with the fact that cars themselves tend to emit large amounts of polluting gases on the roads. The reason for this, among others, is the high fuel consumption, and the long time the vehicles spend on the road. The so-called 'road train' solution can deal with both of these problems.

Anyone who has compared the fuel consumption of their vehicle in the city, and the fuel consumption on the highway, knows that driving in the city is much more wasteful. The multiple stops at traffic lights, crosswalks and traffic jams cause a lot of fuel wastage, and a longer stay on the road. A similar phenomenon also exists in the notorious traffic jams at the entrance to Tel Aviv. An average driver who takes his car from Haifa to Tel Aviv can be sure that in the morning he will spend between half an hour and an hour on the road, driving at a speed of ten km/h, pressing the brakes often and cursing even more often.

The traffic jams are, therefore, more than a mental nuisance. They consume fuel and time - resources both of which can also be measured in money. What if we could avoid traffic jams altogether? This idea is tempting, but probably impossible as long as we leave the wheel in the hands of human drivers. Some of us want to 'steal' some speed beyond the limit, or on the contrary - are afraid to accelerate too much. Others hit the brakes for no reason from time to time, while the crazies overtake them from the left, the right and the curbs. It is a chaotic environment - full of chaos - and it is no wonder that when drivers with different driving patterns bump into each other on the road, mass traffic jams form.

The road train is designed to prevent a large part of these traffic jams, and also provide drivers with some peace and quiet on the road. The train is not really made of one piece, like trains on the tracks, but of a series of robotic cars that follow each other and coordinate with each other through the use of wireless cameras, radar and laser sensors. They do not drive by themselves, but follow the first car in the line. And who drives the first machine? This right is reserved for a skilled human driver, who leads the entire road train. At his will, the column will speed up. At his will, slow down.

The ability of the cars on the road train to react to each other quickly, gives them the ability to almost stick to each other. In the not-too-distant future, it is expected that the cars will be able to drive with minimal gaps of a meter or two between them, but while maintaining a high speed of more than a hundred km/h. This form of driving will ensure that the road can hold a much larger number of vehicles than is currently possible, thus adding another way to reduce traffic jams.

Besides the road train's ability to reduce traffic jams, it also adds to the safety level of the drivers. Many drivers will drink coffee and skim a newspaper while driving, putting their lives and the lives of others on the road at risk. The road train will allow them to do so without fear.

Will the road trains become the main way of traveling on the roads in the coming years? There is probably still some time before the technology comes into common use, if only due to its level of complexity, and the need to provide energy for all the sensors and the various means of communication that the vehicles are equipped with. However, the potential of the road train to improve safety and human efficiency cannot be ignored. How will the insurance companies treat the development and can it lead to a discount in the comprehensive insurance?

Last but not least, the road train actually lengthens the day for many people. It will free up extra time for the drivers during which they can complete the extra hour of sleep that is so important for daily functioning, talk to the child during the automatic ride to school, or spend an extra hour working on a project on the way back home. The technology will add to some people, in practice, two hours a day in which they can work just as if they were at home. This is another way in which technology can significantly and literally improve our lives.


11 תגובות

  1. To the point: if all the cars are robotic it will significantly reduce the amount of situations that cannot be predicted. All the rest are technical problems, complex, but solvable. Hope humanity will adopt the idea. There is a solution to road accidents.

  2. Ori,
    Nothing is dangerous. There won't be such a situation that "suddenly a car will appear in front of you", because the vehicle's sensors don't get tired, and the computers are just computers. Their concentration will not be distracted because the children suddenly decided to fight in the back or because a plane crashes in the field next to the road. In the computerized systems there is no suddenness, no distraction, no fatigue and no better or worse concentration. The role of the computerized systems is also to decide whether to overtake even though at that moment there is no information about a vehicle approaching in the opposite lane. Smart people who will sit in their comfortable offices and design the systems and build them, will decide how good they will be at the moment of truth.

  3. The technophobic barrier will be resolved when there will be verbal communication with the vehicle's computer that will also include understanding and expression of emotions. Until then, it is certainly likely that without legislation, the field will simply not break through to the general public.

  4. The technophobic hurdle should be remembered. It may be that people will not agree to accept 10 deaths per year in Israel (let's say) from TAD in which a computerized system played a part, while in the current situation there are hundreds of deaths every year.

    Beyond that, the cars will have to be completely autonomous, and such cars, which coordinate and chain themselves into a "train" that can merge and split, and pass intersections at full speed while synchronizing all the cars nearby may give such technology priority in shortening the duration of the trip, saving fuel and comfort, until the spread Hers will be shorter than anyone imagines.

  5. It is very beautiful, but cannot succeed in the described format, in my opinion. Until all the cars have such a sensing device and are synchronized together, it will probably not be possible to control the chaotic situation on the roads. When all the cars stuck together or in the periphery of a few tens of meters in each direction will be able to sense each other and synchronize, or then it might be possible to prevent accidents. As a single body of several cars whose position is actually decided by one person, sitting at the head of the column, it is difficult to see it as responsible and safe.

    And what happens when a tire explodes and one of the cars goes out of control? What happens when terrorist hackers spread a virus to this system? What happens when an electromagnetic wave arrives from the sun following an eruption? What will happen in a car where the driver is sleeping and needs to react quickly for any reason?

    Another vision for the time. In the meantime, let's make a real train that will connect cities at speeds of 300 km/h and transport people on time, so that in order to get to work from Tel Aviv to Petah Tikva at 8 o'clock, an employee will leave home at 8:2 a.m. and arrive XNUMX minutes before time.

    Technology is an exciting thing and it is important to cultivate it and give free rein to ideas such as the one presented in the article, but there are century-old technologies that are still waiting for politicians' decisions. Technology is not what slows down the driver on the road. The car is what's holding him back. A private car is a technological invention that should be eliminated with the help of a better and more efficient technological invention.

    Greetings friends,
    Ami Bachar

  6. It will take a long time for these technologies to be used. There are many situations on the road that cannot be predicted.

  7. It seems a bit dangerous to me... the gap between the cars seems quite large according to the video... what happens if a car from behind tries to overtake one of the cars on the "train" and enters the gap between them? Won't this disrupt the synchronization between the cars?

    What happens if the first car in the line starts to overtake a truck and suddenly a car comes in front? Will the following cars continue to follow and perform a dangerous overtaking?

  8. "The transport industry to space is going into private hands"

    Something is wrong with the link, when you click on it you get to an article from "Hidan" from 2008...

  9. I didn't quite understand the picture. What exactly is the role of the steering wheel? If only to have something to hold, then why mislead the public and design it like a standard steering wheel?

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