If you thought driving alongside normal Big Rigs was nerve-wracking, just wait until you look over and see there is no driver at the wheel.
According to a few reports, British Chancellor George Osborne is about to announce trials of autonomous heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), also known as Big Rig trucks in the US or lorries in the UK. The purpose of these trials, which are scheduled to take place on the M6 in Cumbria in the second half of 2016, is to test an entire a platoon of driverless lorries and see whether they could help speed up deliveries and cut traffic congestion.
The platoon might end up being 10 trucks-long on the motorway but will be led by a driver-operated head truck. The driverless trucks will also be “monitored by laser sensors and infrared cameras.” We don't know much yet about which brand of vehicles will be tested on British roads this year, but Daimler has an autonomous truck, according to the BBC, which was already tested on German roads and could find a spot in Britian's trial.
British officials seem to think these upcoming trials will open up new possibilities, too. A spokesman for the Department for Transport told The Times, for instance, that the UK is in a "unique position to lead the way for the testing of connected and driverless vehicles" and that "new technology has the potential to bring major improvements to journeys."
Still, the thought of a driverless 44 tonne 10-lorry platoon hurling toward us on the highway still seems intimidating to say the least.