NATIONAL: Self-driving lorries to be trialled on motorways

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PLATOONS of self-driving lorries will be trialled on England’s motorways , the Department for Transport has announced.

Up to three wirelessly connected HGVs will travel in convoy, with acceleration and braking controlled by the lead vehicle.

Transport minister Paul Maynard said: ‘We are investing in technology that will improve people’s lives.

‘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.’

Similar trials have already been carried out elsewhere in Europe and in the US but motoring experts questioned the suitability of self-driving lorries in the UK.

AA president Edmund King warned that a platoon of three lorries can obscure road signs from drivers in outside lanes and could block access to slip roads.

He said: ‘A three-truck platoon is longer than half a Premier League football pitch.’

‘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.’

The Government has provided £8.1 million funding towards the trials, which are expected to take place by the end of next year.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: ‘Streams of close-running HGVs could provide financial savings on long-distance journeys, but on our heavily congested motorways - with stop-start traffic and vehicles jostling for position - the benefits are less certain.’

Initial test track research will help to ascertain the appropriate distance between vehicles and on which roads the tests should take place.