The news that Highways England is planning to trial driverless trucks has been welcomed by experts in the automation space as a sign that the technology is becoming increasingly prevalent.

Earlier this week Highways England announced the trial, which will see autonomous dump trucks used to move earth during roadworks. It is hoped that the project will not only cut roadwork times but also reduce the risk of injuries to workers.

The Highways England driverless trucks project will see the vehicles tested on the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

“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, deputy project director at Highways England.

“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 driverless trucks: Leading the charge for automation

For experts in the AI field, the news is a welcome sign that the technology is being embraced, indicating that its progression to mainstream use will be swift.

“Already this year, there have been a number of announcements around the rapid progression being made in the self-driving vehicle space, all made possible by advancements in AI,” said Matt Eckersall, Regional Director, EMEA West at SUSE.

“The news today that Highways England will trial driverless trucks to speed up roadworks and reduce risks of road workers being involved in on-site incidents is the latest proof not only of the investment being made by the UK government to ensure it is positioned at the forefront of AI, but that the technology is becoming increasingly mainstream.”