Driverless cars are on the way

* Science fiction turns to reality * Driverless cars tested in Sweden * Watch the video here...

21 January 2011
Driverless cars are on the way

Long motorway journeys can be monotonous and tiring, so wouldn't it be great if you could sit back and let your car take over the driving instead leaving you free to do something more interesting?

It might sound far-fetched, but that's the very serious aim of vehicle technology specialist Ricardo, one of the partners in the EU-financed Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) programme.

SARTRE recently carried out its first non-simulator tests at Volvo's proving ground in Sweden.

A convoy of drone cars followed a lead vehicle driven by a professional driver, and each adjusted their speed and direction to maintain a set gap from each other.

The idea is that computer-controlled platoons of cars could make more efficient and safer use of motorways by travelling close together.

The SARTRE programme estimates that accidents could be reduced by 80% and that fuel consumption and emissions would both improve by 20%.

Watch driverless cars in action
Watch our video to see how researchers are getting close to creating 'platoons' of driverless cars.