Testing begins for self-driving roadworks truck

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Published on 10 May 2019 by Mike Waters

A self-driving dump truck is being tested on the country’s roads in an attempt to help speed up roadworks.

After earlier tests in Australia were a success, Highways England has committed £150,000 to a trial project and is testing an autonomous dump truck on the A14 between Huntingdon and Cambridge. A statement by Highways England confirmed that: “The truck is programmed remotely to follow a pre-determined route and has the capability to detect and avoid obstacles, other vehicles and the like, along the route as it drives.”

Long-running disruption caused by roadworks is a routine source of annoyance for users of the nation’s roads and road workers are often exposed to risk while working on site too. It is hoped that autonomous trucks that are able to operate around the clock instead of just to more human-friendly hours can move more heavy earth than conventional options, meaning construction work is completed faster, roadworks take less time and work crews are at less risk.

Deputy Project Director Julian Lamb said: “We’re increasingly looking to technological advances to help us safely bring improvements to drivers on England’s motorways and major A roads. Road construction has changed massively over the years and the testing of trucks such as these promises to allow us to work efficiently, speeding up roadworks, giving more protection to road workers and moving jobs to other skilled areas.”

If the testing goes well, Highways England has said it hopes to use the technology at other construction sites in the UK and expects that full operation could be rolled out in as little as two to three years.

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