Several European engineering firms are collaborating on new technology that would allow cars to drive you, rather than the other way round.
The so-called road train system is made up of a lead truck which other motorway vehicles would link up to and follow, using a mix of radar, camera and wi-fi technology.
“The heart of the system is a fusion of technology,” said Tom Robinson, project director of one of the partners Ricardo UK.
“I don’t think we’d be able to do it if we didn’t have the vehicle to vehicle communications. So we are effectively using wi-fi which is communicating from the lead vehicle to each of the following vehicles, so they can make controlled decisions about what they need to do,” added Robinson.
The “ultimate cruise control” would allow a driver to take his hands off the wheel, feet off the pedals and relax while the computer system takes control.
Scientists say hands-free driving will cut fuel consumption, reduce congestion and makes road safer.
“People like driving. But sometimes its really boring. We want to provide our customers a form of transportation where they don’t have to pay attention on the road,” said Erik Coelingh, from Swedish carmaker Volvo.
But there are many legal and administrative hurdles to overcome before the road trains could ever be allowed on public roads.
It is hoped a version that still lets drivers retain some control, could be put in place sooner.