Policy & Research

Truck platooning to be trialed on British roads

Trucks on motorways are a step closer to accelerating, braking and steering in sync through wireless technology, thanks to £8.1 million government funding for trials announced on 25 August.

The ‘platooning’ trials will see up to 3 heavy goods vehicles, travelling in convoy, with acceleration and braking controlled by the lead vehicle. All lorries in the platoon will always have a driver ready to take control at any time.

If successful, this technology could have major benefits for motorists and businesses in the UK. A row of lorries driving closer together could see the front truck pushing the air out of the way, making the vehicles in the convoy more efficient, lowering emissions and improving air quality.

The Transport Research Laboratory will carry out the trial, with funding provided by the Department for Transport and Highways England. It follows a government-funded feasibility study which recommended a trial to examine the benefits and viability of platooning.

The trial has the potential to demonstrate how greater automation of vehicles – in this instance, HGVs – can deliver improvements in safety, better journeys for road users and reduction in vehicle emissions.

Investing in this research shows we care about those using our roads, the economy and the environment, and safety will be integral as we take forward this work with TRL.

The trial will be carried out in 3 phases, with the first focusing on the potential for platooning on the UK’s major roads. Initial test track based research will help decide details such as distance between vehicles and on which roads the tests could take place.

Trials are expected on major roads by the end of 2018. Each phase of the testing will only begin when there is robust evidence that it can be done safely.

Similar trials have already been successfully carried out in Europe and the United States.

Original source: UK Department for Transport