Osborne expected to announce trials of driverless HGV ‘platoons’ in budget speech07 March 2016

Trials of driverless HGV convoys may be conducted on parts of the M6 following government investment in the technology, chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce in his budget speech on Wednesday, 16 March.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport confirmed the trials, claiming that the technology could “enable vehicles to move in a group so they use less fuel”. A stretch of the M6 near Carlisle has been earmarked for the tests, which could start as early as this year.

Up to 10 lorries may be able to drive together under the proposed system, which supporters say reduces fuel consumption through eliminating drag for all but the front vehicle. But Edmund King, president of the AA, warned he believes the UK’s roads may not be the most suitable to deploy the technique due to higher than average congestion and complex traffic patterns.

"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,” he said.

Hywel Roberts

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