Tuesday, 23 June 2009

AUTO HEADLINES

Car ‘train’ could allow drivers to eat and sleep at the wheel

Drivers will be able to sleep, read, eat, work or watch television behind the wheel of their cars at 70mph on the motorway, using technology being developed by scientists.

A system which will ‘lock’ cars together using sensors and wireless technology, allowing up to 10 at a time to cruise in ‘car train’ convoys could be unveiled within two years.

Sensors would synchronise each car to follow in the wake of the vehicle directly ahead, with a laser calculating the speed relative to other cars. The only steering and braking would be done by a professional driver at the front of the convoy.

The technology is being developed by Volvo, which expects cars to travel three-feet apart to stay in contact. Volvo and six other companies, including UK technology form Ricardo are working on the project.

It is hoped that a prototype could be launched in 2011 with the technology rolled out across Europe by 2018.

Drivers would pay a subscription of around 10p for every 1.6 miles travelled and would have to book ahead to secure a place in the convoy at a designated time or particular slip road.

They would then join the convoy at the back and allow the system to ‘lock’ them in the steering and braking patterns of the vehicles ahead.

At the point where the driver has booked to leave the convoy, their car would be guided by the new technology on their chosen slip road.

Although Volvo is the only vehicle manufacturer developing the scheme, drivers of other models would be able to join the convoy if the had the right technology. (Mail on Sunday: June 21).

Toyota to extend hybrid to all model ranges by 2020

Toyota is aiming to offer a hybrid-powered version of every one of its passenger cars by the end of the next decade.
Currently the brand only offers one hybrid - the upper medium Prius - but it’s expected that the lower medium Auris will be the next in 2010. The Yaris should then offer a supermini version in 2011.

The company will then look to offer a hybrid version with every all-new model. It is expected the brand’s whole range will offer the option of a petrol hybrid powertrain within 11 years. (BusinessCar.co.uk: June 22).