Self-driving trucks have been unveiled by Highways England, as part of the commitment to speeding up roadworks.
The government-owned company, charged with maintaining and improving the motorways and A-roads of England, is testing the self-driving trucks on the A14, which is the country’s most significant and expensive road enhancement project – between Cambridge and Huntingdon.
As well as saving valuable time on roadwork projects, the self-driving nature means that the trucks also serve another vital purpose for Highways England: significantly reduced risks of road workers being injured on site, or involved in incidents that could lead to injury or even worse.
In the current climate, the government and a number of local authorities are committed to reducing the risks of deaths or serious injuries within the transport industry, and Highways England’s trucks will certainly help to deliver on this commitment.
The trucks have previously been tried and tested in Australia, but now will find their way onto the improvement of the A14.
Huge time savings will be made thanks to the vehicles, which will therefore also save money on projects.
Highways England say the dump trucks can move huge amounts of earth and because they can work around the clock, will reduce the length of time roadworks are on the ground.
The trucks will be used to transport excavated soil to fill large areas on construction sites, and Highways England has committed £150,000 from its innovation designated fund into this trial.
It also fits in with the government’s commitment to supporting advanced trials for autonomous vehicles.
And Julian Lamb, Deputy Project Director on behalf of Highways England for the A14, 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.”