Economy

Driverless lorries to be tested on United Kingdom roads

Driverless lorries to be tested on United Kingdom roads

"Platooning" is the process where a convoy of trucks is connected via wireless technology and accelerating, braking and steering is controlled by the lead vehicle. Speaking to the BBC's Today programme, an AA spokesperson raised concerns about the nature of the UK's motorway network and its suitability for testing potentially hazardous technology.

"We are investing in technology that will improve people's lives", said Transport Minister Paul Maynard (pictured below).

The government is providing £8.1million for the trials, which are expected to take place by the end of next year.

We have more exits and entries on our motorways than any other motorway system.

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The Department for Transport has given the green light for Transport Research Laboratory to trial "platoons" of driverless trucks.

According to TRL the trials will be tailored to the unique requirements of United Kingdom roads and will collate the evidence required to understand issues such as fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, safety, acceptance by drivers and other road users, implications for future infrastructure, and the commercial case for adoption.

The Government has provided £8.1m funding towards the trials and all lorries involved will have a driver ready to take control if required. Platooning may work on the miles of deserted freeways in Arizona but this is not America ... The constant controlled speed delivers fuel savings and environmental benefits through the reduction of Carbon dioxide emissions, whilst the ability to decrease the distance between vehicles increases road network capacity.

The track tests will decide the appropriate distance between the vehicles and will determine the roads on which the vehicles will be tested.

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Platooning works by linking a series of trucks travelling along a motorway through the latest driving systems, operators can move large quantities of goods at consistent speeds, lowering fuel consumption and C02 emissions.

He said: "Advances such as lorry platooning could benefit businesses through cheaper fuel bills and other road users thanks to lower emissions and less congestion". Each phase will begin only if there is robust evidence it can be done safely.

Rob Wallis, chief executive at TRL said: 'The UK has an unprecedented opportunity to lead the world in trialling connected vehicle platoons in a real-world environment.

'Investing in this research shows we care about those using our roads, the economy and the environment, and safety will be integral'.

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