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UK to trial self-driving lorries in 2015

Posted on Wednesday, 20 August, 2014 | Comment icon 18 comments

Automated convoys could become a common sight in Britain. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Ok2010
A new initiative could see convoys of automated lorries following a single driver in a lead vehicle.
The controversial technology would use infrared and wi-fi to communicate the movements of the front lorry to the vehicles behind, facilitating an automated and efficient procession that would save on fuel consumption.

Each lorry would still need a driver to be present at the wheel for safety reasons however for the most part they wouldn't need to do anything at all during the journey.

The plans have been criticized by motoring groups as "intimidating" to other road users.

"For the car user in particular it does pose worries about platooning lorries taking up a lot of space and blocking others out," said Paul Watters of the Automobile Association (AA).

Ministers are believed to have agreed to the trial after seeing the technology being used in Sweden but have emphasized that so far nothing has been set in stone.

"No decision has been reached on a trial using this new technology," said the Department for Transport. "However, road safety remains of paramount importance and will not be compromised."

Source: BBC News | Comments (18)

Tags: Lorries, Self-Driving

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #9 Posted by skookum on 20 August, 2014, 13:34
I am really baffled why the UK seems to want to become the guinea pig for this. Glad I am not a lorry driver, seems it will be reduced to yet another minimum wage job when the amount of drivers out weighs the demand. If it works I give lorry driving 5 years at best. Are the Government going to offer training for alternative trades since they seem so hell bent of automating their role?
Comment icon #10 Posted by Silent Trinity on 21 August, 2014, 10:21
I would be a little concerned with so much tonnage hurtling down our motorways with nobody at the wheel. And we all know in the UK how crappy the signal can be on our phones once we hit the motorway so I hope this is a little more reliable :/ I think it is the inevitable progression of technology and one that is impossible to stop really but this seems rather ambitious rather quick.... we shall see..... and worry lol
Comment icon #11 Posted by stevewinn on 21 August, 2014, 10:58
How would such a convoy negotiate a motorway slip-road/roundabout ? The lead driver would be way down the roundabout exit road, whilst the tail-end charlies are still on the roundabout approach road. How will they know which direction to go in ? On entering the motorway, it might be safe for the lead vehical to move from the slip road to the inner lane. But by the time the tail-end charlie gets there, will it STILL be safe ? In the interval, oncoming traffic may have arrived. Do the tail-enders barge in regardless, or do they wait ? If they wait.. then the convoy would be split up, and may hav... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by aztek on 22 August, 2014, 18:56
p Not for much longer...this video has gone viral so many of you may have seen it. Robots in the workplace: self-driving cars are just the start of this silent economy killer. it has happened before, in the begining of the century, people had same arguments against factories, and steam powered equipment. we all know how that ended
Comment icon #13 Posted by spud the mackem on 22 August, 2014, 22:42
It's not a case the lorries behind haven't got a driver, all the lorries have drivers. its just a form of cruise control. so the Driver of each lorry would be in full control of his lorry at junctions such as roundabouts and merging on to the motorway. All this new system does is allow the lorries to connect to one another electronically. the Driver still steers the lorry. the only thing he is not doing while electronically connected is use the pedals. its a form of electronically connected cruise control between lorries. When two or more lorries are electronically connected via a link. The se... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by taniwha on 23 August, 2014, 2:23
It would make much safer to invest in driverless cargo trains.
Comment icon #15 Posted by and then on 24 August, 2014, 6:07
it has happened before, in the begining of the century, people had same arguments against factories, and steam powered equipment. we all know how that ended At that particular time we also had relatively moral and ADULT leadership in place to manage the changes. Care to imagine the outcome with today's version?
Comment icon #16 Posted by skookum on 24 August, 2014, 13:43
I always felt the fuel protests that happened under the Labour Government started the ball rolling on an idea like this. The farmers and truckers scared the living daylights out of MP's with how hard they can hit the country. Farmers since then have been treated like dirt, I will never forget Tony Blair live on a special Question Time giving an answer to a question about them "I don't give a damn about the farmers". It was quickly covered over by the presenter. Since the protests successive Governments have taken steps to ensure protests are made illegal. They also illegally trained 1500 army ... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by Dark_Grey on 27 August, 2014, 14:21
it has happened before, in the begining of the century, people had same arguments against factories, and steam powered equipment. we all know how that ended a At that particular time we also had moral and ADULT leadership in place to manage the changes. Care to imagine the outcome with today's version? Thanks, and then. I was just about to address his post. To everyone comparing this "revolution" to the industrial revolution, you are severely downplaying this. In the industrial revolution, none of those machines could think for themselves. None of those machines could do very complex tasks. Di... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by Yes_Man on 27 August, 2014, 17:18
I doubt more than 1 driverless truck would be used, think of red lights, cross winds, road debris, pedestrians, driver error and blow outs. I think it would be more realistic to have 2 trailers to 1 unit. roads are narrow and people will complain

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