An interesting EU-financed project is looking at the possibility of building "Road Trains" to carry cars in convoy over long journeys. Each road train would be comprised of up to eight vehicles (cars, buses, trucks, anything), all of which would follow a professional driver, who would monitor the train's status.
Each following vehicle could lock its position so that the driver could take his or her hands off the wheel and read a book, play a game or watch TV or a movie. The vehicles would be wirelessly controlled by the lead driver, so that they stayed in formation. Fuel consumption could be cut, through the scheme, by 20%, according to the researchers.
"The goal is to try and introduce a step change in transport methods", said Tom Robinson, project co-ordinator. "We're looking at what it would take to get platooning on public highways without making big changes to the public highways themselves".
Each vehicle would need to carry a module capable of communicating with the lead driver, as well as sensors so that driver could monitor the entire train. However, the technology is available today, so the next step would be winning the trust of road regulators and the general public, as well as working out the safety implications.
Trials will be held on test tracks in the next few years in the UK, Spain and Sweden. We'll keep you posted of their progress. Let us know in the comments what you think - would you feel safe in a Road Train?