Delta 28 verlaat

Door omstandigheden verschijnt de papieren versie van Delta 28 een dag later dan gebruikelijk. Onze excuses voor het ongemak.

Door omstandigheden verschijnt de papieren versie van Delta 28 een dag later dan gebruikelijk. Onze excuses voor het ongemak.

The BBC news and several other sources reported on a research project led by the British engineering firm Ricardo in cooperation with several research institutes in Spain, Germany and Sweden. The Sartre plan (Safe Road Trains for the Environment), funded under the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme, aims to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by twenty percent.

“That’s a reasonable assumption”, says prof.dr. Bart van Arem, a newly appointed professor in transport modelling at the transport and planning section of the faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.
Similar automatic car-following systems have been developed and demonstrated for trucks. There has even been a demo for multiple trucks, coupled as a car train, that have successfully crossed the Brenner Pass in the Alps. The main benefit of such systems is in long-haul transport. At shorter distances, disturbances caused by manoeuvres for getting into and out of the car train largely negate any efficiency gains from the car trains. Moreover, short-haul transport in the Randstad would be better served with an automated congested driving system, Van Arem says. Such a ‘full range adaptive cruise control’ has been developed and implemented on some top models made by BMW and Volkswagen, among others.

“It’s obnoxious to make such a train”, says prof.dr. Bob Mulder, of the control and simulation section (faculty of Aerospace Engineering), who is not at all charmed by the plan. “For one, the system requires that a professional chauffeur lead the train, and thus an extra car. At very best the system will be energy neutral. But with only a few cars following, the energy consumption will be higher.” But what worries Mulder most is the lack of safety: “What if someone has a flat tire or if the lead driver falls asleep? Then you have disaster.”

Despite his scepticism, Mulder calls it ‘a great challenge’ to develop the control system of the train. “I’d gladly solve the problems”, he says, laughing. “We have the maths and control systems needed.”
Mulder illustrates the complexity of the system by describing what happens if a car towards the front of the train starts to sway, due to side wind for instance: “This will result in a much bigger sway at the end of the train. To counter these effects each car will need to know their position in the train.”
Sensors are not the problem. Mulder: “Cars in a road train should be equipped with radar, laser, or should use video images. Or better even: use all three.”
All these gadgets are very inexpensive according to the professor. More expensive however are instruments that measure accelerations and changes in angular velocity, which the cars would also need. “Airplanes use them”, says Mulder. “They are now much too expensive to use in cars. But perhaps it’s possible to manufacture them more inexpensively.”

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