Autonomous vehicles: will UK infrastructure be fit for logistics?

If anyone thought that autonomous vehicles were simply a fantasy, there is new evidence that the government is taking the development very seriously.

Malory Davies, Editor.

The National Infrastructure Commission and Highways England have launched a funding competition for organisations to investigate the changes to roads and related infrastructure to “maximise the benefits of driverless and connected vehicle technologies”.

They say: “Self-driving cars could be on UK roads in the next decade. The way we use roads could change as a result. Vehicles could move in convoys, there may be no need for traffic lights, and lane directions could change depending on the time of day.”

And they have earmarked some £200,000 for the competition, which is seeking practical ideas on designing and managing roads in three areas:

* road design and related infrastructure including line markings, signs, posts, gantries, crash barriers and lighting columns

* traffic management such as traffic signals and any other means of controlling traffic flow

* road rules and regulations including such things as speed limits and waiting or loading restrictions

Clearly, these changes could have a significant impact on logistics operations – and not always in obvious ways, as the point about loading restrictions highlights.

So its worth asking the question now: in a world of autonomous vehicles will the UK’s transport infrastructure be fit for logistics operations? Clearly, the logistics industry needs to make its voice heard.

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