Scary? Perhaps. But according to Volvo’s Senior Safety Engineer Thomas Broberg, the idea of a car train, where a lead vehicle sets the pace and speed and other cars communicate with it from behind will be a reality, at least on European roads by the end of the decade.
Broberg says that closed circuit tests have already proved successful with two cars working together in a car train format; Volvo says field trials are set to be conducted in Sweden later this year.
“Car trains allow a driver to use their time better, drive safer, reduce congestion and improve the environment,” the engineer said. “You’re always following another car, so why not let the driving be done by someone else?”
Broberg also believes that car trains are a further step towards fully autonomous cars but recognizes from a technical point of view, the concept is tremendously challenging, not mention legally and socially hard to swallow for most.
Yet Volvo is taking radical steps, setting a lofty goal of nobody dying in any of its cars by 2020, but says it “needs to understand the mechanisms about how people think,” in order to get there.
Broberg also believes that if Volvo could understand how people think in the seconds before an accident, it could potentially change accident situations from critical to non critical.
With more ambitious sales targets now in the works for Volvo, following its purchase by Chinese automaker Geely, the company has the potential to acquire more crash safety data from more of its cars in a shorter time period, speeding up research and development on future safety programs.