Motorway trials of autonomous HGV platoons have begun after the project stalled during the start of the pandemic.

The consortium behind the trials told this week that the trucks are on the roads and are likely to be spotted on motorways over the summer.

However, consortium member the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) added that the various routes taken by the platoons would not be released “for safety reasons”.

A TRL spokeswoman said: “The on-road trials will run for nearly six months in different phases - lorries empty, lorries with loads and so on.

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“Then there will be a period of analysis and report writing.”

Platooning is the use of technology to allow HGVs to travel safely in close proximity at speed with the driver of the lead vehicle controlling the speed, acceleration and braking of the whole platoon.

Despite this, each HGV will still have a driver ready to take over manual control.

It is hoped the project will deliver safety and cyber security evidence, environmental benefits and commercial viability.

The project has so far cost the government millions of pounds and involved desk-based research, off-road trials, extensive safety testing and driver training before the technology was given the green light to be tested on the country’s motorways.

The trials were due to begin last year but were abandoned when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK.