The UK’s roads agency, Highways England, is testing self-driving trucks that it believes could help to speed up roadworks.
One autonomous earth-moving dump truck is being trialled on the UK’s biggest road upgrade, near Cambridge. Highways England believes the autonomous vehicles could work around the clock, potentially reducing the length of time needed for roadworks.
The truck is programmed remotely to follow a pre-determined route, and has the capability to detect and avoid obstacles as it drives.
“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,” said Julian Lamb, the project’s deputy director.
“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.”
Highways England hopes to adopt the technology to modernise UK construction sites, although it is likely to be a few years before autonomous dump trucks are in full operation, according to the agency.