The Department for Transport is introducing testing of convoys of autonomous HGVs on UK motorways
Jimi Beckwith
7 March 2016

Autonomous lorries will be tested on UK motorways from later this year, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).

Platoons of HGVs, led by a driven lorry, with as many as nine lorries following in close convoy, will travel on quieter sections of UK motorways.

The aim of the testing is to find out the effect the lorry convoys have on traffic, as well as how they will work on the UK’s road network. It is believed that the convoys could eventually reduce the emissions and fuel consumption of HGV traffic, and cut the number of accidents involving HGVs on UK roads.

The government wants the UK to be at the forefront of autonomous technology, so this is the latest in a string of planned autonomous vehicle testing schemes.

No exact dates for the testing, or particular motorways, have been selected yet; this will be decided "in due course", according to a DfT spokesperson.

“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,” added the DfT spokesperson.

Neil Greig, Director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, commented: “The announcement raises a lot of questions, and the only way to answer them is with a trial. The M6 would be the best place to carry out the trials because it’s a quiet enough stretch of motorway, and would be suitable for the tests.

"A lot of people are very worried about the HGV trials, their main concern is when they’re about to join the motorway, they will have to negotiate a wall of up to 10 HGVs in the inside lane. A pilot trial will need to happen in order to address these concerns. We await more details later this year of autonomous car trials, and this will give us more information about what to expect.”

The announcement came alongside the DfT’s crackdown on drivers using mobile phones at the wheel. The fine for using a phone while driving has risen from £100 to £150, and the number of penalty points has risen from three to four for car drivers and to six points for HGV drivers.  

Our Verdict

The popular Ford Focus in 1.5 TDCi Zetec form
The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

Britain's biggest-selling family hatchback gets a mid-life refresh

Join the debate


7 March 2016
"The M6 would be the best place to carry out the trials because it’s a quiet enough stretch of motorway" not when I'm on it its not. When they get to the other end does the driver have to get out and park 9 lorries and what about the parking during toilet breaks. This autonomous s*** is a waste of internet space, who's on the make from it?


Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 March 2016
Not a fan of automation, but I'll go with this one if it means I can travel through a section of roadworks, in lane 1, at the limit without some truck driven by some psycho being 3 inches off my bumper.

7 March 2016
Aside from the issues associated with autonomous trucks, which are a considerable amount, what happens to the huge amount of redundant truck drivers. Also,what about the taxi, bus, home delivery and many more drivers that loose their jobs to antonomous vehicles? Where does it stop? Oh and while I'm at it, their be no need for car testers or magazines, as their be no point! Joking apart, the future is bright, for whom I'm not totally sure!

7 March 2016
They'll become redundant, like millions before them. It's that simple. Can I make it another 30 odd years without being replaced by a PC? Considering the changes in the past 30 years I'm guessing not.

7 March 2016
I've been waiting to see the first trials of this. We're a long way from the ultimate goal of fully autonomous deliveries to multi drop city centre sites but for full loads site to site this has real possibilities.

7 March 2016
...has already been invented. They're called trains & run on the new fangled "rails". Which we dug up in the sixties...

...viewing the car world through cola-bottle lenses.

7 March 2016
So 'The Simpsons' predicted self driving lorries just as they predicted Donald Trump as US President.... I'm thinking ahead of the game on this one and will be opening a 'Dome Depo' for all your dome needs asap...

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 May 2016
    Jaguar takes a typically sporting approach to its first SUV
  • Audi RS7 Performance
    First Drive
    20 May 2016
    Did Audi's RS7 need an extra 44bhp and 37lb ft? No, it didn't. Regardless, this Performance model has just that – and we've driven it in the UK
  • Jaguar F-Pace S 3.0d AWD
    First Drive
    20 May 2016
    First UK drive of V6 diesel F-Pace reminds us how good Jaguar's crossover can be - at a price
  • £24,923 Toyota Hilux Invincible
    First Drive
    19 May 2016
    The Hilux is iconic - chances are you've seen, driven or ridden in one. For 2016, it's more refined and better to drive with added luxury and tech
  • Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TFSI Sport
    First Drive
    19 May 2016
    New 2.0-litre petrol joins the A3 range in place of Audi's older 1.8, offering more power and lower running costs. We've driven it abroad