Skip to main content

Autonomous Lorries to be trialed on UK Roads

Autonomous technology is about to get a boost with trials of autonomous lorries being tested on the M6 up by Carlisle.

The plan is to test the autonomous technology with convoys of up to ten lorries travelling in close formation. The idea behind the tests is to speed up deliveries and cut congestion on UK roads.

Testing autonomous vehicles has been in the news over the last couple of years with the likes of Google testing autonomous cars, however the more realistic prospect is that computer controlled lorries and trucks are likely to be on our roads first. This is down to the way lorries travel in predictable patterns, spending long periods on motorways and travelling at constant speeds spending the majority of their time in one lane. Driver fatigue is also an issue with long distance driving so autonomous vehicles could have a major effect on road safety as well as on saving fuel.

A Department for Transport spokesman told the BBC: "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. We are planning trials of HGV platoons - which enable vehicles to move in a group so they use less fuel - and will be in a position to say more in due course."

The Times also said that George Osborne would be announcing next week the trial of driverless lorries and it could happen before the end of the year.

However, the UK is not the first in Europe to test driverless lorries as Daimler held tests on German roads back in October last year. It is not known what make of lorry will be tested in the UK trials.

David Emm, principal security researcher, Kaspersky Lab commented: "With driverless lorry funding expected to be announced in the Budget next week, the automotive and security industries should be looking to join forces to protect our connected vehicles from emerging cyber-threats, before the vehicles become widely available to consumers and the risks increase.

"The current mechanisms for real-time tracking, detection, analysis and resolution of cyber-threats for computers and mobile devices will not be enough on their own. If driverless vehicles aren’t designed with security in mind, we could see them being disabled, destroyed or hijacked, with disastrous consequences.

Rather than waiting for the first attack to take place, we have to find and stop these vulnerabilities now before the technology is integrated extensively into trucks or consumer vehicles."