Autonomous lorries will hit the road later this year, it has been confirmed. Up to 10 lorries – driving just a few metres apart – are to be tested on British motorways, heralding the start of driverless testing in the UK.
The test would work by having a driver in the first lorry, controlling the steering, acceleration and braking of the convoy, creating a train effect. For safety reasons, a driver will be located in each lorry for the time being.
The idea is that having the lorries travel in a close group (around 10 metres apart) will allow for better fuel consumption by reducing drag. It’s hoped that there will also be a positive effect on traffic congestion and create a better understanding of how the system can work on UK roads.
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With the George Osborne’s Budget due next week, it is expected the Government will announce funding for the trial as part of a plan to improve the delivery speeds and cut congestion.
Although a driverless lorry, created by Daimler, has already been tested on public roads in Germany, this will be the first time a system will have been used on UK roads. The president of the AA Edmund King has said he was doubtful the scheme would be "right for the UK” and that “the only feasible place” it could take place is the M6 towards Scotland due to it having “less traffic” and “fewer entrances and exits”.
A Department for Transport spokesman has said: “The UK is in a unique position to lead the way for the testing of driverless cars. We are planning trials of HGV platoons and will be in a position to say more in due course”.
What do you think of driverless lorries testing on UK roads? Would you trust them in and amongst normal cars? Let us know in the comments below…