The U.K. will “lead the way” in testing driverless heavy good vehicles later this year, the Department for Transport has confirmed. The first self-driving trucks are expected to hit roads later this year for a trial that hopes to speed up deliveries and cut congestion.
The self-driving technology used in these vehicles allows them to move in a group of up to ten, with just meters in between each one. By travelling closely like this, the trucks will consume less fuel.
The tests are set to be conducted on a “quiet stretch” of the M6 motorway in Cumbria, according to BBC News. Each vehicle will be powered by a “highway pilot” that ensures they avoid other road users using a radar and camera sensing system.
They will also have a human driver on-board that will be able to take control of the truck if necessary.
“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,” said a Department for Transport spokesman.
However, others are skeptical the technology will work in the U.K.
Edmund King, president of the AA, told the BBC that the U.K.’s motorway network, which has more entrances and exits “than any other motorways in Europe or indeed the world,” would make it very difficult for ten 44-tonne trucks to move closely together.
Germany already tested a driverless truck built by Daimler last October. The autonomous driving mode was activated on the highway, and it successful piloted the vehicle, pictured above, along the motorway at speeds of up to 50 mph.