The Transport Research Laboratory has welcome government plans to trial driverless vehicles on UK roads.
Professor Nick Reed, TRL’s academy director, said: “It’s a logical next step following TRL’s work alongside Ricardo for the Department of Transport (DfT) on the feasibility of operating commercial vehicle platoons.
“A move towards greater levels of automation in trucks could deliver compelling efficiency improvements for both the UK’s haulage industry and transport network. Trials of this nature are already in progress in the US and Europe, so it’s vital that the UK takes these steps to ensure our haulage industry remains competitive globally.
Reed pointed out that: “First and foremost, safety must be the government’s highest priority. The technology needs to be proven to be safe before it moves to on-road trials, and thus gradually builds in complexity, to establish the scale of the benefits achievable in the context of real-world driving. The precise scope of trials remains to be defined, but we envisage that all vehicles participating in trials will have fully trained and qualified drivers at the controls at all times.
“Secondly, the haulage industry must be closely involved in the trials to examine the practical requirements for platooning in a commercial and operational environment. Within this, the needs of drivers must be prioritised. The further training required for drivers of the convoy’s lead and following trucks is important to ensure the safe operation of the platoon, and particular attention must be paid to the in-vehicle information systems that control platoon formation.”