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The best UK roads for driverless lorries identified

The UK roads that would benefit the most from driverless lorry tech have been identified by transport information firm Inrix.

The M6/M74 corridor between Manchester and Glasgow has been identified as the most valuable route for driverless lorries in the UK while the M25 could see the biggest safety improvements.

Firms would maximise profits by deploying autonomous HGVs on the 215-mile Anglo-Scottish route because of its long distance and relatively low congestion, according to transport information firm Inrix.

In a report the firm found that the UK would get particular benefit from autonomous vehicles due to concerns over labour shortages and its impending exit from the European Union. Adoption of autonomous technologies would help to hedge the UK against a potential labour shock. While automotive freight will need a HGV qualified operative behind the wheel in the short- to medium-term, successful deployment will eventually free drivers from long haul journeys across the UK’s least safe roads.

According to INRIX the most suitable corridors for autonomous freighting in the UK are:

  • A1         Sheffield-Edinburgh
  • M5         Plymouth-Birmingham
  • M4         Swindon-Swansea
  • M25       London Orbital
  • M6         Birmingham-Manchester

The report stated that highly automated vehicles are “posed to dramatically alter the long-haul trucking sector”.

It predicted that the cost of the technology will decline as it is developed and stated that it could provide “valuable savings” for UK firms due to the shortage of qualified HGV drivers and uncertainty over the movement of people after Brexit.

Avery Ash, autonomous vehicle market strategist at INRIX, said: “Automated lorries are posed to transform freighting in the UK. Rising labour pressures, future emission regulations, and regulatory reform, make a powerful economic rationale for deployment in the near term."

“However, there is uncertainty where deployment is best-suited initial success. Without smart planning, highly automated vehicles could clog roads, increase pollution and even result in safety issues. Fortunately, our data analysis shows that there are a range of roads in the UK that are both suitable and commercially viable for trial and initial deployment of autonomous freight vehicles.”

Last year the Department for Transport announced that trials involving platoons of self-driving lorries would take place on Britain’s roads. Up to three wirelessly connected HGVs will travel in convoy, with acceleration and braking controlled by the lead vehicle. Lorries driving close together could see the front vehicle pushing air out of the way, making the other vehicles more efficient and lowering their emissions.

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