Even though the time of driverless cars has not come yet, but a pilot scheme (or better a pilotless scheme) in the United Kingdom shows that we’re getting closer by the day.
A series of autonomous public transport is currently taking place in London’s Greenwich Peninsula, with seven prototype shuttles.Each shuttle is designed to seat four passengers — carrying selected people as part of the city’s GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project.
The Self-Driving Pod in Action.
“What we’ve introduced are our driverless pods, going up and down the Greenwich Peninsula,” Dr. Graeme Smith, CEO of Oxbotica, the company which developed the vehicles, told Digital Trends. “An early version of these pods has been in operation at Heathrow Airport for two or three years. They’re totally driverless, but at Heathrow, they run on a specially modified railway track. What we’ve done for the GATEway Project is to add sensors and a lot of clever AI software that lets them run in lots of different places, such as regular cycle paths or roads.”
A part of the trial is also to show that driverless vehicles might work as zero emission, low noise transport for residents; maybe even one day as an alternative to cars or buses.
The pods are described as the world’s first fully automated shuttle vehicles, although for the trial a trained staff member is on hand at all times to stop them if necessary. The trial will run for the next three weeks.
Similar to other self-driving car projects, the pods use technologies like cameras and lasers to locate themselves on a map, perceive and track dynamic obstacles around them, and plan a safe trajectory to their destination. Over an eight-hour period of operation, one vehicle alone collects four terabytes of data, which is roughly equivalent to 2,000 hours of film.
Other driverless vehicle tests will take place in the U.K. later this year.