Trials of driverless vans will start by the end of the year, according to a Government-backed research body.
Nick Reed, academy director at the Transport Research Laboratory and technical lead for the £8m Government-backed Gateway project, which develops driverless vehicles, said the tests, which are due to take place in Greenwich, south-east London, "could have an even-bigger impact on the successful operation of a city" than driverless cars.
Reed told What Van? that TRL is "looking to gauge the public perceptions and the industry perceptions as we want to understand if companies would genuinely find this useful."
"We believe there's great benefits to be added with great flexibility in the operation and in the use of driverless vehicles for deliveries, and we think it will be beneficial to a city, but it needs to work in a commercially-competitive environment, and we want to get feedback from the public and the industry on how these vehicles will contribute to the city," Reed added.
Reed said the trials are unlikely to take place on public roads and expected the top speed of the vans to be limited to 15kph (9mph) in order to comply with the code of practice on the testing of automated vehicles.