By Rohit Kr. Patra | TNI Network
Date: Sep 01 , 2017

LONDON: By the end of 2018, Britain will begin trials of semi-automated truck convoys on public roads to find more fuel-efficient ways to transport goods. Up to three wirelessly connected HGVs (Human Genome Variation Society) will travel in convoy, with acceleration, braking and steering controlled by the lead vehicle, a concept named platooning. Each lorry will have a driver in the cab ready to retake control at any time if necessary.

Similar trials have been successfully carried out in the US and Europe. Platooning is seen as more efficient as the first truck in the convoy reduces air resistance for the vehicles behind it.

Transport Minister Paul Maynard said,"Advances such as lorry platooning could benefit businesses through cheaper fuel bills and other road users, thanks to lower emissions and less congestion, But first we must make sure the technology is safe and works well on our roads, and that's why we are investing in these trials."

President of the Automobile Association (AA), Edmund King said, “ British roads were not suitable for large-scale convoys.This is not America, we do not have massive freeways like in Nevada and Arizona where you've got long stretches of road that are pretty open, If you look at the UK, we have more entrances and exits to our motorways and they are much more congested."

“We all want to promote fuel efficiency and reduced congestion but we are not yet convinced that lorry platooning on UK motorways is the way to go about it,” King said. “We have some of the busiest motorways in Europe with many more exits and entries. Platooning may work on the miles of deserted freeways in Arizona or Nevada but this is not America.”

The Road Haulage Association said it would be following the trials very carefully. Its chief executive, Richard Burnett  said,  “Of course we welcome improvements to the way the road freight industry works and we understand the benefits that such a mode of operation would bring.”

The Department for Transport and Highways England have yet to confirm where the first tests will be carried out, but said they were expected on major roads by the end of 2018.