Are self-driving lorries coming to the UK?
Self-driving lorries may conjure up images of the demonic truck in Steven Spielberg’s Duel, but the reality might not be quite as terrifying. The government has announced that ‘partially driverless’ lorries will be on UK roads before the end of next year, and that the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) is testing a number of “platoons”.
Reassuringly, humans will be in control of the steering of the semi-autonomous vehicles, which will travel together in close formation in groups of three. A human driver will control the lead vehicle, with acceleration and braking mirrored by the other lorries using wireless technology.
Transport minister Paul Maynard said that because the front vehicle pushes air out of the way for the others, using self-driving lorries could lead to more efficient travel and low emissions. The AA, however, has raised concerns about the effectiveness of the system on UK roads, warning that a convoy could block road signs for other users.
“We all want to promote fuel efficiency and reduce congestion, but we are not yet convinced that lorry platooning on UK motorways is the way to go about it,” said the AA’S president, Edmund King, noting the number of exits and entries on the UK road system. “Platooning may work on the miles of deserted freeways in Arizona or Nevada but this is not America.”
The government originally proposed a trial of semi-autonomous lorries back in 2014.