Driverless lorry trials expected on M6 this year

THGV driver, truck driver.

Chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce trials of driverless lorries on the M6 in his Budget next week.

The Times is reporting the trials are expected to take place later in the year on the motorway between Cumbria and Scotland, with vehicles travelling in convoy with a 'lead truck' operated by driver. Up to 10 vehicles at a time are expected to travel in the group, driving in close proximity to each other.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "New technology has the potential to bring major improvements to journeys and the UK is in a unique position to lead the way for the testing of connected and driverless vehicles.

"We are planning trials of HGV platoons - which enable vehicles to move in a group so they use less fuel - and will be in a position to say more in due course."

AA President Edmund King added that the M6 is likely the only suitable stretch for trials, due to the nature of UK motorways.

He said: "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."

A report published last year by AXA suggested driverless trucks could deliver nearly £34bn of savings.

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  • DerekWebb - 07/03/2016 11:28

    I think they are called trains, haven't we got some of those!

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  • Helen - 08/03/2016 15:34

    I'm curious to know whether the fact our motorways aren't suitable for the trials suggests they will not be suitable for this type of thing period? Drivers are always going to need to get passed the lorry's and access the slip roads so how will it work in reality if it won't work in a trial?

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  • Jonathan - 10/03/2016 13:58

    As already suggested, if our motorways aren't suitable then why are we trialling these? This section of the motorway has fewer junctions but the issue of other traffic joining and leaving the M6 still exists. This trial section also has some particularly short and nasty junctions such as Junction 34. Has the weather been taken into consideration too? The exposed section over Shap is notorious for surface water and side winds. It was just two weeks ago when a police traffic officer was killed and his partner critically injured when a truck moved into the hard shoulder and collided with their traffic car. Perhaps the Cumbrian section of the M6 was selected since it's so far away from London... Heaven forbid a trial on the M25, eh?

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