The government has confirmed that it plans to trial truck platoons on the UK’s strategic road network in the 2016 spring Budget.

The budget document added that it will “consult on sweeping away regulatory barriers within this Parliament to enable autonomous vehicles on England’s major roads” over the coming summer.

It is thought that the trial will involve testing platoons of 'driverless' trucks on stretches of motorway, making use of cruise and proximity controls. It will examine the effect of platooning on reducing accidents and emissions, as well as improving traffic flow.

A number of manufacturers have already expressed an interest in the trials, and Daimler, Daf, Iveco, MAN, Scania and Volvo have indicated that they are involved in developing platooning systems.

FTA road management policy chief Malcolm Bingham said: “The data indicates both fuel saving and environmental benefits are to be had. But this technology is not going to be cheap so the question for members is, will the benefits outweigh the additional costs?”

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett questioned whether it was appropriate or necessary on UK roads.

He said: “Is platooning practical for the haulier? Does it make operational sense and, critically, will it be safe practice on UK roads with so many junctions?”

However, Tim Slater, MD transport at DHL Supply Chain, said: "It's hugely important that the government invests in self-driving technology, which will benefit all of us.

"It will save time and costs getting goods to our stores, which means - ultimately - a benefit to British businesses and consumers. Stretching the boundaries of technological innovation is crucial to keep Britain competitive."