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Self-driving lorries to be rolled out on UK's motorways

25 Août 2017

Up to three wirelessly connected HGVs will travel in convoy, with acceleration, braking and steering controlled by the lead vehicle, a concept named platooning.

Transport Minister Paul Maynard will announce £8.1 million funding for the first trials of lorry platooning.

Driving in close convoy could see the front lorry push air out of the way, making the other vehicles more efficient and lowering their emissions.

DAF has been working on the technology for some time, and has been awarded the contract for the trials, which will be monitored and evaluated by the independent Transport Research Laboratory.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: "I think the real problem in Britain is that we have some of the most congested motorways in the world".

The trial, if it successful, could have a number of benefits for businesses and motorists in the UK.

The drone vehicles are not unmanned, they will have drivers to take control in case of emergency, and to enter and leave the platoons.

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"Advances such as lorry platooning could benefit businesses through cheaper fuel bills and other road users thanks to lower emissions and less congestion".

'A platoon of just three HGVs can obscure road signs from drivers in the outside lanes and potentially make access to entries or exits hard ...

"We all want to promote fuel efficiency and reduced congestion but we are not yet convinced that lorry platooning on United Kingdom motorways is the way to go about it", King said.

Mr King added: 'We have some of the busiest motorways in Europe with many more exits and entries. 'A three-truck platoon is longer than half a Premier League football pitch, ' he said. Platooning may work on the miles of deserted freeways in Arizona but this is not America ... The Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England have yet to confirm where the first tests will be carried out, but said they were expected on major roads by the end of 2018. Any new initiative like this must put safety first.

"Technology is the solution to emissions, road safety and managing costs", concludes Mr Snelling. Jim O'Sullivan, the chief executive, said: "Investing in this research shows we care about those using our roads, the economy and the environment, and safety will be integral as we take forward this work with TRL".

"TRL and its consortium of global partners have the practical and technical knowledge gained from previous projects to understand what is required to put a connected vehicle platoon on to United Kingdom roads safely", said TRL CEO Rob Wallis.

Self-driving lorries to be rolled out on UK's motorways