A new European government initiative called SARTRE (SAfe Road TRains for the Environment) is working on self-driving auto technology that will allow vehicles to drive along Europe’s highways in autonomous road trains. This week, the team behind SARTRE conducted their first real world test, in which a Volvo S60 followed a lead truck around the automaker’s test facility near Gothenburg, Sweden.

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Self-driving cars efficiently transport passengers while significantly lowering CO2 emissions – one scheme, called Dial-A-Car, could potentially reduce European traffic by up to 80%. The SARTRE system would see eight-car “road trains” linked and led by a professional driver. Using these ‘trains’, commuters would be able to reduce their travel time, congestion, and fuel consumption.

In the test video, the lead driver can be seen leading the train, however the Volvo is driving itself, allowing the driver to sit back, drink a coffee and even read the paper. The video also shows that the driver doesn’t even have to use his hands or feet to drive. Of course, it is doubtful that we will see the system anytime soon, but it is great to see a proof of concept. The only question is — would you feel safe driving in a ‘road train’?

+ The SARTRE project

Via Motor Authority