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Driverless ‘pod’ cars to take to British streets from 2017Back

DriverlessPodsThe UK is set to receive its first driverless cars in 2017.

From 2017, car passengers in Milton Keynes will be able to take a trip in the ‘pod’ whilst reading emails and a newspaper!

Rather than having to watch the road, the new driverless ‘pod’ cars will do the work for you. One hundred ‘pods’ are set to travel the pathways next to pedestrians using sensors to avoid obstacles whilst driving at a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour.

A trial which is due to start in the UK in 2015 will see drivers getting the chance to try out driverless prototypes whilst remaining in full control of the vehicle, to get people used to the idea of seeing driverless ‘pods’ on the streets.

Jon Beasley, programme director from the Transport Systems Catapult, one of the collaborators on the project explains:”We will start them initially actually with driving, so people will be driving them to start with so that people can get used to actually seeing them on the particular pathways and they can get used to interacting with them and not being frightened by them and have confidence that they are actually safe to work with.”

Google and carmakers such as Audi AG, BMW AG, Ford Motor Co. and Volvo have been working on autonomous car technology for years with several US states having already passed laws allowing such vehicles to ride on public highways.

Working on the Milton Keynes based project is the engineering group Arup as well as students from Cambridge and Oxford Universities. Earlier this year, Oxford University scientists unveiled their latest driverless prototype entitled ‘Robotcar’ which is designed to work similarly to a plan on auto-pilot.

In areas where traffic is slow moving or familiar routes such as the school run, Robotcar can take over from humans. It is activated by using an iPad style dashboard and using one tap, the driver can effectively make the car’s onboard computer take the wheel. It uses a combination of external sensors and computer power to calculate the correct direction and speed.

By 2015, the first group of 20 driverless ‘pods’ will be ready for trial on dedicated lanes which are separate from pedestrians located between Milton Keyne’s railway station and the city centre, but by mid 2017, one hundred fully autonomous pods could potentially be running alongside people – so watch out!


Posted by Leana Kell on 13/11/2013