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Driverless pods launched at HeathrowBack

New driverless pod cars have been launched today at Heathrow airport, but what lies ahead for the future of self-driving cars?

Google has set the wheels in motion (so to speak) by revealing that they are currently testing self-driving cars in California, in the hope that self-drive cars will be readily available to the public from the year 2020.

But, will the public ever accept a car which drives itself? It’s true that most drivers would dearly love to forgo the pile-ups, road rage and traffic jams which are everyday occurrences on the road, but could we ever really trust a man-made machine to transport us safely from a to b?

Adopting driverless cars would reportedly greatly reduce carbon dioxide emissions as well as reduce the amount of road casualties every year, which amounted to 2,222 deaths and 24,690 serious injuries in 2009.

The launch of automatic driverless pods at Heathrow Airport’s terminal 5 marks a huge breakthrough in car technology. This new and innovative transport system has been developed over 6 years at a cost of £30 million and the new pods are designed to carry 500,000 passengers travelling between Terminal 5 Business Car Park and the main terminal every year.

The pods offer a smooth and virtually silent ride, with the advantage of offering a journey which is non-stop and works on demand at the touch of a computer screen. The pods make for a comfortable, 5 minute journey which eliminates long queues and fixed timetables, and they are able to self-charge whilst they wait for passengers.

The automatic pods are set to eliminate 50,000 bus journeys on the roads around Heathrow and will consume 70 per cent less energy per passenger than a car and 50 per cent less than a bus, and the best thing about them is they run 22 hours per day in the week and 21 and 20 hours on a Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Fraser Brown, MD of Ultra PRT, said: “We’re very excited about the benefits that the Heathrow pod can offer Heathrow’s passengers. Its service is predictable, reduces waiting time and offers reduced journey times; it’s also an environmentally sustainable form of transport that ensures reduced emissions. There’s an enormous sense of pride for all the staff who were involved in turning this science fiction dream into a reality at Heathrow and demonstrating the best of British innovation.”

However, does the world’s fascination and love of cars prove too strong to ever let technology take over? Could we really trust a car with nobody at the controls? Why not tell us what you think.


Posted by Leana Kell on 19/10/2011