All aboard! Engineers in Europe are putting down tracks for a new kind of train. A road train. Today, on Engineering Works!
Even if you like to drive long distances, it’s a tiring way to travel. Engineers think they’ve come up with a way to combine the best parts of your private vehicle and mass transit. A road train of cars, heading down the highway.
The idea is that the road train’s locomotive, probably a truck driven by a professional driver, would carry a controller that would control the other cars in the train. Most of the technology involved is already available in existing vehicles: automatic speed control, sensors that watch your blind spot, laser range-finders that help you keep your distance from vehicles ahead.
The SARTRE project – Safe Road Trains for the Environment – puts them all together in a package with controllers for steering and brakes. The SARTRE developers have tested it on highways in Europe, and it works. Drivers of cars in the road train can relax and let the driver of the lead vehicle do the work. Read, answer e-mails. Even sleep. It’s safer and less tiring than driving yourself. And because you’d be drafting in the slipstream of vehicles ahead of you in the train like a NASCAR driver, your gas mileage will be better, too.
It’s a cool idea, and legal restrictions are all that’s standing in the way of putting the idea into practice. We’re ready. See you next time.
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Start the discussion: This has to be one of the neater transportation-related ideas to come along in a while. We’d use it. Would you? Why or why not.
See video of the road train on the road: