Driverless truck trialled on A14 project

02/05/2019
Dominic Browne

Self-driving trucks are being tested for the first time in England on the country's biggest road project, the A14.

Autonomous dump trucks, which move huge amounts of earth, provide the potential to work around the clock and could reduce the length of time roadworks are on the ground as well as increase safety.

Previously tried and tested in Australia, the concept is now being trialled on national roads operator Highways England’s £1.5bn improvement of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

Under the trial, one 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,'  Highways England said.

The government-owned company has committed £150,000 from its innovation designated fund into the A14 dump truck trial.

Deputy project director on behalf of Highways England for the A14, Julian Lamb, said: 'The trial we are leading with our partner CA Blackwell will enable the construction industry as a whole to be in a more informed position to make key decisions about autonomy on UK construction sites.'

Niall Fraser, director of earthworks services supplier CA Blackwell, said: 'We are delighted to have received the backing of Highways England and their Designated Funds grant for this trial and are grateful for the support and commitment of our technology providers in making it a reality.'

Once testing is complete, Highways England hopes to adopt the technology to modernise UK construction sites.

It is expected to be another two or three years before autonomous dump trucks are in full operation.

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