I love writing about self-driving cars on this blog because they need in-the-wild testing like I need my right hand (p.s. I’m right handed). But today’s post ups the ante because I’m not writing about one self-driving car, I’m writing about a self-driving car caravan!
Until recently, Volvo has been testing its contribution to the “Safe Road Train for the Environment” project on the lab-like confines of a closed race track. Now the company has taken a major step and moved into the wild to test the automatic caravan on the roads of Spain. From engadget:
Volvo has just taken a big step forward in fostering confidence by conducting its road train on public asphalt. The 124-mile Spanish test both proved that the cars could stay driverless without posing a threat and upped the ante for what the cars could do: the lead truck, an S60, a V60 and an XC60 all moved along at a brisk 53MPH with a tighter gap between vehicles than there was in the original test, at just 20 feet.
Check out engadget for a video of the caravan in action.
The test took place on public roads amidst traditional drivers and was billed as quite successful.
I still have a few in-the-wild questions though. What happens if someone tries to change lanes by squeezing in between two cars in the caravan? What if there’s an accident in another lane that makes caravan cars 3 or 4 need to swerve but the drives don’t notice because they’re too busy reading a magazine? Just because the cars can successfully follow the lead vehicle doesn’t mean they’ve overcome all real life driving issues. Sounds like there’s still some work to do.