A new EU project called SARTRE is being launched to develop and test technology for vehicles that can drive themselves in long road trains on motorways.

This technology has the potential to improve traffic flow and journey times, offer greater comfort to drivers, reduce accidents, and improve fuel consumption and hence lower CO2 emissions.

Just imagine leaving home in the morning and, just after joining the motorway, meeting up with a number of other cars which inch up to each other, travelling at normal speed in a close-formation convoy.

After a few minutes you can let go of the steering wheel and spend your time reading the morning paper, talking on the phone or watching the TV, while your car drives itself in complete safety and also saving fuel.

The first test cars equipped with this technology will roll on test tracks as early as 2011.

The vehicles will be equipped with a navigation system and a transmitter/receiver unit that communicates with a lead vehicle.