Spain experiments with autonomous vehicles


October 20, 2004

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The Citroen C3 Pluriel is already an intelligent design, but Spain's Council of Scientific Investigation (CSIC) has made it event smarter by endowing the C3 Pluriel with the ability to drive itself!

As part of its work on automated driving systems, the CSIC has installed in a Citroen C3 Pluriel all the latest technology developed under the Autopia programme which is developing systems to enable cars to drive themselves on freeways or when there are traffic jams, relieving their owners of the drudgery of freeway and stop-start driving, as well as enhancing road usage and safety.

The test car, nick named Clavile–o by the scientists, is based on the Citroen C3 Pluriel 1.6 litre SensoDrive. All the driver inputs, the steering wheel, the gearbox, and the pedals, are operated by the Autop’a system. The C3 Pluriel follows hidden wires set in or alongside the road and uses GPS SatNav accurate to just 2 cm to crosscheck that it is exactly positioned correctly on the road, while perimeter radar checks for hazards around the vehicle.

The Citroen C3 Pluriel was chosen because the advanced systems used in the standard car, such as the multiplex electrics, the electric power steering and the SensoDrive sequential manual gearbox, made adding and adapting the Autop’a technology considerably easier than in conventional cars. The size of the C3 Pluriel and the fact that the technology was added without affecting its five car convertibility also indicates how compact the Autop’a technology now is.

Of course, the decision to use the Citroen C3 Pluriel was not swayed by the fact that while testing system, the scientists can sit in the back of the Pluriel, with the roof down and enjoy the Spanish sunshine as it drives them around the test track!

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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