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Road trains will mean easy mornings

You wake up at 7:00AM to get to work at 8:00AM. You have a 50-minute commute ahead of you, you’re not panicked, you’re used to this. Besides, you just got out of the 6:00AM routine and think early mornings are for saps.

You put the kettle on while you grab a five-minute shower, dry off, throw on some clothes, mix some instant coffee into a travel mug, grab a few things and hop into your car.

Ten kilometres down the road you pull up close behind a long string of cars, seemingly driven by a bunch of tailgaters, you slap a button on the dash, take your hands off the wheel, foot off the gas and eyes off the road. You grab your egg burrito, e-reader, sketch pad or whatever else you use to devour content during your morning routine.

And you don’t crash.

This is the future of the morning commute.

SARTRE, or SAfe Road TRains for the Environment (and on an unrelated note, the surname of Nobel Prize in Literature-winning French writer, philosopher and Marxist), has been working for the last year and a half to bring this futuristic dream to today’s roads, using today’s technology.

The system uses a pilot truck to communicate with and take control of a string of private cars driving down existing European highways. Though it’s only being tested on a small scale in closed, controlled environments right now, the collaboration of six companies expects the system to be used on a grander scale within 10 years.

According to a documentary SARTRE released last weekend, the project is undergoing a ridiculous amount of safety testing, from the systems that take over steering in the individual cars, to the reactions of everyday people to following so closely behind another car at 90 km/h without control of the vehicle – and even the programs that detect the expressions on the face of the lead truck’s driver to ensure he’s not being distracted.

The end goal of the project is to decrease the fuel consumption of privately-owned cars by reducing air drag, decrease the amount of accidents due to driver fatigue or human error by having cars lead by professional drivers; streamline highway traffic and free up road space by having cars drive so closely together, and allow for more comfortable and productive rides for commuters.

Check the video below for more.

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