‘Self-driving’ lorries to be tested on UK roads – BBC News

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Media caption The particular technology has already been trialled in the Holland using two lorries, with the business lead truck having control

Little convoys of partially self-driving lorries will be tried out on major Uk roads by the end of next year, the federal government has announced.

An agreement has been awarded to the Transport Study Laboratory (TRL) to carry out the assessments of vehicle “platoons”.

Up to three lorries will traveling in formation, with acceleration plus braking controlled by the lead automobile.

But the head from the AA said platoons raised protection concerns.

In the platoons, the lead vehicle will be managed by a human driver and will speak with the rest of the convoy wirelessly.

The following vehicles will be instructed in order to accelerate and brake by the business lead vehicle, allowing the lorries to push closer together than they could along with human drivers.

Lorries generating close together could reduce air opposition for the following vehicles, as the front side lorry pushes air out of the way.

This could lead to energy efficiency savings for haulage businesses, which Transport Minister Paul Maynard hopes will be passed on to customers.

The following automobiles could also react more quickly to the business lead lorry braking than human motorists can.

However , individual drivers will still steer all of the lorries in the convoy.

The TRL will begin trials from the technology on test tracks, require trials are expected to move to main roads by the end of 2018.

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Media caption Driverless lorries could lead to savings getting passed to consumers, the Transportation Minister Paul Maynard says

The federal government has been promising such a project since a minimum of 2014 .

A year ago, for example , it announced its intention to undertake platooning trials unfortunately he later frustrated after some Western lorrymakers declined to participate.

A Department for Transportation spokesman told the BBC which the experiments are now expected to go ahead because the contract had been awarded.


Q& The

Will the particular platoon block motorists trying to depart or enter the motorway?

The TRL says it is going to carefully choose sections of motorway for the trials, taking the number of junctions plus traffic into account. All the lorries may have drivers behind the wheel who will be able to command and break up the convoy in order to let other drivers join or even leave the motorway if there is a good obstruction.

What goes on if a car tries to squeeze involving the lorries?

The particular platoon lorries will be able to drive a lot more closely together than those driven specifically by humans, so the gap together might be uncomfortably close for a car owner to try to squeeze into. However , the TRL says its current strategy would be to break up the convoy and let the individual drivers take control, if a car pushes in between the lorries. The company is considering ways of informing some other road users that the lorries are in the “self-driving” convoy.

How much fuel will a convoy actually save?

According to TRL, other trials have experienced improvements in fuel economy associated with between 4% and 10%. A nearby trial will help determine the benefit platooning can deliver in the UK.


The TRL provides announced its partners for the task:

  • DAF Trucks, the Dutch lorry manufacturer
  • Ricardo, the British smart tech transport company
  • DHL, a German logistics business

Platooning has been tested in a number of countries around the world, including the US, Australia and Japan.

Nevertheless , British roads present a unique problem, said Edmund King, president from the AA.

“We every want to promote fuel efficiency and minimize congestion but we are not however convinced that lorry platooning upon UK motorways is the way to go about this, ” he said, pointing away, for example , that small convoys associated with lorries can block road indications from the view of other motorists.

“We have some from the busiest motorways in Europe numerous more exits and entries.

“Platooning may work on the mls of deserted freeways in Az or Nevada but this is not The united states, ” he added.

His comments were echoed by RAC Foundation.

The director, Steve Gooding, said: “Streams of close-running HGVs could supply financial savings on long-distance journeys, yet on our heavily congested motorways : with stop-start traffic and automobiles jostling for position – the advantages are less certain. ”

Campaign group the Road Haulage Association said “safety has to arrive first”.

Transport Ressortchef (umgangssprachlich) Paul Maynard said platooning can result in cheaper fuel bills, lower exhausts and less congestion.

“But first we must make sure the technologies is safe and works well on our highways, and that’s why we are investing in these tests, ” he said.