First demonstration of SARTRE vehicle platooning

Platooning may be the new way of travelling on motorways in as little as ten years’ time. The EU-financed SARTRE project has carried out the first successful demonstration of its technology at the Volvo Proving Ground close to Gothenburg, Sweden.

Vehicle platooning, as envisaged by the SARTRE project, is a convoy of vehicles where a professional driver in a lead vehicle is closely followed by several cars. Each car measures the distance, speed and direction and adjusts to the car in front. All the vehicles are totally detached from one another and can leave the procession at any time. However, once in the platoon, drivers can relax and do other things while the platoon proceeds towards its long-haul destination.

“SARTRE is a very exciting project with future potential for saving fuel and improving traffic safety,” says Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic and Product Safety Director at Volvo Trucks.

The tests carried out included a lead truck and a single following car, which smoothly follows the lead vehicle around the country road test track.

This is the first time the EU-financed development teams in SARTRE tried their systems together outside the simulators.

“This is a major milestone for this important European research programme,” says Ricardo UK Ltd’s Tom Robinson, SARTRE project coordinator. “Platooning offers the prospect of improved road safety, better road space utilisation, improved driver comfort on long journeys as well as reduced fuel consumption and hence lower CO2 emissions. With the combined skills of its participating companies, SARTRE is making tangible progress towards the realisation of safe and effective road train technology.”

Safer and more convenient
Platooning is designed to improve a number of things: Firstly road safety, since it minimises the human factor that is the cause of at least 80 percent of all road accidents. Secondly, it cuts fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions by up to 20 percent. It is also convenient for drivers in following cars because it frees up time for them to do other things than driving. And since the vehicles travel at highway speed with a gap of only a few metres, platooning may also relieve traffic congestion.

The technology development is well under way and can probably go into production in a few years’ time. What may take substantially longer time are the public’s acceptance and the necessary legislation, since 25 EU governments must pass similar laws.

The Volvo Truck Corporation is involved in the SARTRE project via Volvo Technology Corporation, a business unit of the Volvo Group that develops new technology and new concepts. The lead vehicle in the tests carried out is a Volvo truck.

“A professional, well-trained driver leading the road train is an important factor to ensure safety in the project,” says Erik Nordin at Volvo Technology.

In addition, the professional Volvo truck driver is supported by state-of-the-art safety technology such as the alcolock, driver alert support, forward collision warning and electronic stability programs that enhance driver attention and minimise accidents.

“Volvo Technology is also working on the development and installation of different types of aids that will further increase traffic safety,” concludes Erik Nordin.

January 17, 2011

View the film -SARTRE - safety research

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Facts on the lead truck: The Volvo automated Safety Truck

  • 6x2 FH rigid with 13-litre engine
  • It includes all the safety systems currently offered by Volvo Trucks, including ESP (Electronic Stability Program), Lane Keeping Support, Driver Alert Support, Lane Change Support and Adaptive Cruise Control. 
    Further information on YouTube about:
  • It is also equipped with safety systems currently being tested in various EU-financed research projects, such as HAVEit and Intersafe2.

About the SARTRE project
SARTRE stands for Safe Road Trains for the Environment. Part-funded by the European Commission under the Framework 7 programme, SARTRE is led by Ricardo UK Ltd and comprises collaboration between the following additional participating companies: Applus Idiada and Robotiker-Tecnalia of Spain, Institut für Kraftfahrwesen Aachen (IKA) of Germany, and SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Volvo Car Corporation and Volvo Technology of Sweden.

SARTRE aims to encourage a paradigm change in personal transport usage through the development of safe environmental road trains (platoons). Prototype systems are being developed that will facilitate the safe adoption of road trains on un-modified public highways involving full interaction with non-platoon vehicles.

The project addresses the three cornerstone transportation issues of environment, safety and congestion while at the same time encouraging driver acceptance through the prospect of increased driver comfort. The objectives of SARTRE may be summarised as follows:

  1. To define a set of acceptable platooning strategies that will allow road trains to operate on public highways without changes to the road and roadside infrastructure.
  2. To enhance, develop and integrate technologies for a prototype platooning system such that the defined strategies can be assessed in real-world scenarios.
  3. To demonstrate how the use of platoons can lead to environmental, safety and congestion improvements.
  4. To illustrate how a new business model can be used to encourage the use of platoons with benefits to both lead vehicle operators and platoon subscribers.

If successful, the benefits of SARTRE are expected to be significant. The estimated fuel consumption saving for high-speed highway operation of road trains is in the region of 20 percent depending on vehicle spacing and geometry. Safety benefits will arise from the reduction of accidents caused by driver action and driver fatigue. The utilisation of existing road capacity will also be increased with a potential consequential reduction in journey times. For users of the technology, the practical attractions of a smoother, more predictable and lower-cost journey which offers the opportunity of additional free time will be considerable. The SARTRE project formally started in September 2009 and will run for a total of three years.

For further information, please contact:
Jenny Björsne, Corporate Communications, phone +46 70 930 8300, e-mail

Marie Vassiliadis, Media Relations Europe, phone +46 31 322 41 27, e-mail