Driverless lorries to be trialled

Reports are abound that driverless lorries will be trialled on the UK’s roads later this year.

The announcement is expected as part of Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget speech this month with The Department for Transport having declared the UK would ‘lead the way’ in testing driverless ‘HGV platoons’.

The trials are reported to be taking place on the M6 in Cumbria later this year, with vehicles in convoy headed by a driver in the leading lorry. The Times reported plans could result in platoons of up to 10 computer-controlled lorries being driven metres apart from each other.

Edmund King, the president of the AA, said while such a scheme might work in other countries, he was doubtful it was right for the UK. ‘The problem with the UK motorway network is that we have more entrances and exits of our motorways than any other motorways in Europe or indeed the world, and therefore it’s very difficult to have a 44 tonne 10-lorry platoon, because other vehicles need to get past the platoon to enter or exit the road.’

RAC chief engineer, David Bizley said, ‘The RAC would in principle welcome this kind of development but it does raise a lot of questions in terms of how the technology can be adopted safely.’

He continued, ‘While this is a potentially welcome extension to the driverless technology we are seeing trialled in cars, it’s not clear yet whether it is something that would work in practice on the UK’s motorway network.’