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Tue December 05 2023

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Self-driving dump truck trialled on A14

3 May 19 Earthworks contractor CA Blackwell is trialling the use of a self-driving dump truck on the A14 project in the east of England.

A single autonomous articulated dump truck (ADT) is being tested in a controlled environment on Highways England’s A14 upgrade scheme.

The truck is programmed remotely to follow a pre-determined route and has the capability to detect and avoid obstacles and other vehicles as it moves along its specified route.

Highways England has committed £150,000 from its innovation designated fund to trialling the autonomous haulage system.

CA Blackwell director Niall Fraser said: “We are delighted to have received the backing of Highways England and their designated funds grant for this trial and are grateful for the support and commitment of our technology providers in making it a reality.”

Highways England deputy project director Julian Lamb said: “We’re increasingly looking to technological advances to help us safely bring improvements to drivers on England’s motorways and major A roads.

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“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.

“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 said that it would be ‘another two or three years’ before autonomous dump trucks are in full operation on any of its sites.

CA Blackwell has more than 160 earthmoving machines and tipper lorries operating on the earthworks subcontract on sections four and five for the A14 Integrated Delivery Team (IDT), a joint venture of Costain, Skanska, Balfour Beatty and designers Atkins/CH2M. This includes 72 articulated trucks and a range of excavators, graders and dozers.

The other three earthmoving packages are being delivered by Walters. You can read more about earthmoving on the A14 in our feature from February 2018, here.

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