UK to start trial of driverless trucks on public roads

UK to start trial of driverless trucks on public roads
Technology News |
A commercial trial of platoons of driverless trucks is to start in the UK later this year.
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

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The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England has commissioned TRL to lead the tests which will start on a private track and move to public motorways in 2018.

The trials will use trucks from DAF with 802.11p wireless links and radar systems from NXP (which is being acquired by Qualcomm). Ricardo, which worked with TRL to deliver the HGV Platooning feasibility study for the DfT in 2014 and courier company DHL are also part of the consortium.

The £8.1m (E10m) on-road trials will form part of regular DHL logistical operations and are expected to take place in 2018, following driving simulations, driver training and test track trials over the coming months.

The DAF trucks and Ricardo technology were tested in trials in the Netherlands in April last year. The planned distance between the vehicles for that trial was 0.5 seconds, or 10m at 50 mph (80kph).

“The UK has an unprecedented opportunity to lead the world in trialling connected vehicle platoons in a real-world environment,” said Rob Wallis, Chief Executive of TRL, which is also part of the GATEway, MOVE_UK, Atlas, Driven, Streetwise and DRAGON UK driverless vehicle.

“TRL and its consortium of leading international partners, have the practical and technical knowledge gained from previous projects to understand what is required to put a connected vehicle platoon on to UK roads safely,” said Wallis. “The team are now taking that expertise and uniquely applying it within live traffic operations.”

NXP is working with car OEMs and developers including Siemens, Harman, Delphi and Cohda Wireless, with RoadLINK implemented in series cars this year as part of the Delphi V2X platform.

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