The UK government has put forward £1.8m of funding for trials of semi-autonomous “self-driving” lorries.
The scheme in question involves small platoons or convoys of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) which will be led by a human driver, named the “platoon leader”. The rest of the vehicles, referred to as “drones”, will be piloted by computers, linked to each other via GPS, radar and wifi.
The platoon leader will control the entire convoy and its route, along with steering, accelerating and braking.
One of the aims of these semi-autonomous vehicles is to reduce fuel emissions, as the distance between the lorries reduces air drag, which means that less fuel is used.
However, the logistics of managing a convoy on busy roads and motorways has yet to be figured out, with convoys needing to break up at entries and exits.
The contract was awarded to truck-maker DAF, and the trials will be monitored by the independent Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).
Courier company DHL is due to join the trials later, to test the convoys’ real-world applications.
(Source: Yahoo! News)