Autonomous vehicles

Look, no hands!

A driverless lorry is put through its paces on a famous test track

Come on Stig. Make my day

THANKS TO“Top Gear”, a British television show for motoring enthusiasts that is now a global brand, a former second-world-war airfield called Dunsfold has become one of the best known testing tracks in the world. On October 15th, however, instead of reverberating to the roar of supercars driven by the show’s anonymous racing driver, the Stig, it witnessed the sight of what appeared to be the cabless trailer of an articulated lorry belting almost silently around the course at over 80kph.

The Pod (see picture), as this vehicle is known, was made by Einride, a Swedish firm founded in 2016 by Robert Falck, an engineer who used to work for Volvo. Mr Falck thinks that the technology of vehicle autonomy, long experimental, has now evolved sufficiently for driverless goods vehicles to begin earning their livings properly. Some Pods are already in trials for real jobs: running between warehouses, hauling logs from forests and delivering goods for Lidl, a supermarket group.

Pods use the same technology of cameras, radar, lidar (the optical equivalent of radar) and satellite-positioning as other contenders in the field, but they differ from those…