Three cars have successfully driven themselves by automatically following a lorry for 125 miles on a public motorway in the presence of other, normal road users.
The real-world trial, conducted in Spain by Volvo and car automation specialist Ricardo, put technology created for Project Sartre (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) to the test to determine if it can indeed allow the cars to be guided safely by a lead vehicle while their drivers get on with something else.
The Sartre tech is designed to allow cars to slot in behind another vehicle which then effectively takes control of the entire train. It’s a technique called “vehicle platooning”.
On-board cameras, radar and laser tracking allow each vehicle to monitor the one in front. Wirelessly streamed data from the lead vehicle tells each car when to accelerate, break and turn, all in real-world traffic conditions.
“Apart from the software developed as part of the project, it is really only the wireless network installed between the cars that set them apart from other cars available in showrooms today,” said Volvo’s Sartre project chief, Linda Wahlström.
Remember how graphene, the single-atom thick layer of carbon was so slick it was
going to change everything? Well it looks like silicene is here to steal the spotlight. Researchers have just made the first sheet of single-atom thick silicon.
Silicene has been a work in progress for years, but they think they’ve finally got it down now, and it represents a tremendous breakthrough. Graphene is awesome, but it’s proven a bit tricky to work it into components. Because silicene is made of silicon, which most chips are already made of, the integration process could be much simpler.
Patrick Vogt of Berlin’s Technical University in Germany, along side researchers at Aix-Marseille University in France managed to create silicene by condensing silicon vapor onto a silver plate to form a single layer of atoms. They then tested the sheet and found that it closely matched the properties silicene was theorized to exhibit. The next (challenging) step will be to grow silicene on insulating substrates so that it can be fully tested and evaluated for potential future uses in electronics. Looking forward to see what they do with this stuff. [New Scientist]