Self-driving vehicles designed for use in pedestrianised areas have made their debut in Milton Keynes.
The LUTZ Pathfinder pod was developed by the RDM group as part of a Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) trial of autonomous vehicles in pedestrianised areas.
Check out the video above to see the pod in action.
Passers-by in Milton Keynes were given a ride in the electric-powered pod, including student Harry Hess who was enthusiastic about self-driving vehicles: “I’d use it for trips into town, and I think this is the way all cars will go once people get more used to the idea.”
Capable of carrying two people, the pod can reach a maximum speed of 15mph and shoppers will be able to order them using their smartphones.
The LUTZ Pathfinder pod on show is still at research stage. The next step is the installation of an autonomous control system by the Mobile Robotics Group at Oxford University.
Sensors will provide the vehicle with a 360-degree view of its surroundings to help navigate and detect vehicles, cyclists and cars – stopping if it detects a hazard.
Many people will be worried by the safety aspect of autonomous vehicles, so when public trials begin in Milton Keynes, the pods will initially use a trained operator.
“Safety has been our paramount concern throughout the planning process, which is why we will continue to have a human operator at the wheel for the duration of the trial,” explained Steve Yianni, CEO of TSC.
The trial is just the beginning of a future of autonomous cars, he added: “The LUTZ Pathfinder project is an important first step towards a future where self-driving vehicles can be called up on demand, as and when people need them.”
40 self-driving pods set to be trialled in Milton Keynes, Coventry, Greenwich and Bristol as part of the UK Autodrive programme.
What do you think of the self-driving pod? Would you use it if it came to your city? Let us know in the Comments section below.