Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) is a unique idea being explored in the European Union as a way to save not only fuel but also time and potentially lives. The idea is that people driving to the same destination, such as commuters on a highway headed from the suburbs to a central business district, would link together in a train or convoy, headed by a lead vehicle, and then the drivers in the train would not have to drive at all and be free to read books, surf the web or work, taking over control of their vehicles again when they near their destination. The fuel savings is expected to be 20%, but the time and opportunity cost savings could be much greater. The system depends on automakers creating cars that can be controlled with a navigation system and a communication link to the lead vehicle. Known as “autonomous driving,” these features are expected to be road tested next year, and some advocates claim these “cars that drive themselves” could be a reality within 10 years.
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