UK Chancellor George Osborne will use his budget speech on March 16 to announce there will be tests of driverless trucks and lorries in “road trains” on British motorways, according to the Financial Times. The tests are likely to be done on the M6 in Cumbria at night, where traffic is lighter.
Automated driving of trucks allows them to travel nose-to-tail down motorways at high speed, with just a 4 metre gap between each vehicle. Connected by wifi, when the front lorry brakes the rest do simultaneously.
It saves time, fuel, and is safer (because it removes human error), at least in theory.
In practice however, the road trains will pose a problem for human drivers: They might block cars from entering or exiting the motorway. So Cumbria is one possible test area because exits there are spaced far apart.
Each 44-tonne vehicle will have a human in the cab. But that driver will be able to read a book rather than actually drive once the truck is on the motorway.
The budget for the tests is £19-100 million. The companies in the tests include Volvo, Scania, Mercedes, Iveco, MAN and DAF.
Scania, Mercedes, Iveco, MAN and DAF. Nissan wants to have driverless lorries on the road by 2020.