Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard has announced that self driving trucks are to be trialled for use on motorways.
The transport minister was speaking at the Leyland DAF trucks factory in Lancashire which is part of the consortium doing the trials of up to three wirelessly connected HGVs travelling in convoy, with acceleration and braking controlled by the lead vehicle.
With the trucks close together, the front vehicle pushes air out of the way, making the other vehicles more efficient and cutting emissions.
Similar trials have been carried out in Europe and in the US but motoring experts questioned the suitability of self-driving lorries in the UK.
The Government has provided £8.1m towards trials, to take place by the end of next year. All the trial trucks will have a driver to take control if needed.
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.” The trial is also funded by Highways England and will be carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory.
AA president Edmund King warned that three lorries could obscure road signs from drivers and could block access to slip roads. He said: “A three-truck platoon is longer than half a football pitch. We have some of the busiest motorways in Europe with many more exits and entries.”
Nick Lloyd, from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “RoSPA supports the multi-stage approach being adopted, with each phase of testing only beginning if it done safely.”