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Trials on British roads involving platoons of autonomous HGVs have been put on hold due to the ongoing pandemic.

The consortium behind the investigations into the use of the technology said off-road trials and “extensive safety testing and driver training” had been completed, but Covid-19 had affected the programme and on-road trials scheduled for this year had been abandoned for the time being.

HelmUK added: “An evaluation will be made at a future agreed date to understand the changes in both governmental guidelines and the traffic flow on the UK road network.

“The evaluation will determine when the HGV road trials will re-start.”

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The consortium was formed in 2017, with aims to deliver safety and cyber security evidence, environmental benefits and commercial viability of HGV platoons.

HelmUK is led by the Transport Research Laboratory and partners include DHL, DAF, Millbrook Proving Ground, Costain and Ricardo.

In January 2019, Daimler said it had pulled out of trials after real-world testing demonstrated the fuel savings were only around 1%.

And despite initial interest in the technology from Volvo Group, it is not involved in any trials either.

HGV platooning technology has been extensively trialled in Europe and in the USA, but UK trials will be the first to include a realistic commercial operation.