“Platoons” of up to 10 driveless lorries travelling just metres apart could be coming to Britain’s motorways.

The automated juggernauts are set to take to UK roads for the first time this year in testing backed by the Government.

In next week’s Budget, Chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce funding for the trial as part of an initiative to improve the fuel efficiency of long-haul journeys.

A driver in the lead vehicle would control the steering, acceleration and braking of the convoy.

But the drones would have a driver in each cab as a safety measure and would regain control if there was an emergency.

The Government wants to bring major improvements to journeys in a technological revolution of roads, including better safety.

By travelling in a tightly-packed convoy, it is hoped the lorries’ fuel consumption will improve by reducing drag.


The trial could take place on M6 motorway near Carlisle

A stretch of the M6 near Carlisle has reportedly been earmarked as a potential test route for the automated juggernauts.

In Germany, a driverless lorry developed by Daimler was tested on a public road last October.

But transport groups have raised doubts about plans for the UK.

The AA said although such a scheme could work in other countries, it may not be right for the UK as Britain has more motorway entrances and exits.

Spokesman Paul Watters explained a procession of driverless lorries would block slip roads.

He said: “Motorists will certainly be very nervous about the prospect and will need considerable reassurance that it will be safe.

“Motorways are pretty congested in the UK, they are about the most congested in Europe, and there will be problems in how they access and exit the roads.”

“There are lots of logistical problems,” he added.

The Department for Transport could not confirm the location of the test route or timetable and would not speculate on whether the research will receive funding in the Budget, although it said planning for trials was under way.

A spokeswoman said: “New technology has the potential to bring major improvements to journeys and the UK is in a unique position to lead the way for the testing of connected and driverless vehicles.

“We are planning trials of HGV platoons – which enable vehicles to move in a group so they use less fuel – and will be in a position to say more in due course.”