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Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Technology: London's first driverless cars based on Heathrow 'pods'

London's first driverless cars based on Heathrow 'pods'
The first driverless cars to be tested on the streets of London will resemble the electric passenger shuttles cur­rently in use at Heathrow Airport.
The group behind the project is currently adapting the pods for use on the roads.
The BBC reported that though the group has yet to unveil the ex­act design but has confirmed that the adapted vehicles will not run on dedicated tracks.
Greenwich is one of four places in the UK where driverless pods and public reaction to them are being tested.
Trials will also take place in Bristol, Coventry and Milton Keynes. The £8m project is joint­ly funded by government agency Innovate UK and industry.
The Greenwich Automated Transport Environment project - or Gateway - will see seven driver­less pods tested on the pavements around the Greenwich Peninsu­la, where the O2 Arena is based, from July.
Routes are still being worked out but are likely to include res­idential areas, the North Green­wich underground station and businesses around the arena.
The so-called UltraPODs cur­rently in service at Heathrow carry passengers between the car park and Terminal 5. In the five years they have been in use, they have carried 1.5 million pas­sengers and travelled 1.8 million miles (three million kilometres).
Westfield Sportscars, a British carmaker, will be responsible for manufacturing and testing of the pods. Heathrow Enterprise will design the software while a third British firm, Oxbotica, will pro­vide mapping and other sensors to ensure the vehicles are safe.
The pods will have three months of testing, first with invit­ed users and then with the gen­eral public. Each pod can carry six passengers but will require a steward to be present at all times to press the emergency button in the case of a problem.
The trial of the pods will reveal a wealth of data, Prof Nick Reed, technical director for the Gateway project, told the BBC.
“It will tell us whether people trust and accept these vehicles and how they would work as part of the urban landscape,” he said.
“This vehicle has millions of miles under its belt and now we have to take it outside of the track and modify it for use on pave­ments.”
The pods will differ from an earlier demonstration where a shuttle designed by autonomous vehicle firm Phoenix Wings was on display.

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