Public invited to test government-backed driverless vehicles

Written by Sam Trendall on 5 March 2018 in News

The GATEway project enters its final phase

Credit: The GATEway Project

Over the next four weeks, members of the public will have the chance to trial driverless vehicles developed by a government-funded scheme. 

These tests mark the final stage of the GATEway project, which has seen transport companies Westfield Sportscars and Heathrow Enterprises work with tech firms Fusion Processing, Gobotix, and Oxbotica to build four autonomous “pods”. The project has also used research from the University of Greenwich, the Royal College of Art, Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), and Commonplace.

The pods (pictured above) have, for the past five months, been travelling around the Greenwich peninsula area of London during an initial trial phase. 

More than 5,000 people have registered their interest in taking part in the final public trial.

Those registrants will have priority for booking a spot on one of a handful of journeys that the vehicles will be undertaking each day over the coming weeks. Those who are not registered will still have the opportunity to take part during one of a number of “drop-in sessions” that will be taking place. 

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The journeys, which will all be made with a safety steward on board, will take in a route of a little more than two miles around the peninsula. The pods are designed to use sensor devices and navigation software to safely avoid any obstacles. The vehicles have no steering wheels, and are designed to work even in the dark, which the project claims is a “global first”.

The members of the public taking part will be asked for their feedback on the experience.

Richard Cuerden, academy director at TRL, said: “As we explore the future of mobility solutions, it is essential that we consider the experience and benefits delivered to the consumer. This is why understanding and exploring the public perception of automated services has always been at the heart of the GATEway Project.” 

He added: “This project is enabling us to discover how potential users of automated vehicles respond to them, in a real-world environment, so that the anticipated benefits to mobility can be maximised. We see driverless vehicles as a practical solution to delivering safe, clean, accessible and affordable mobility and we are proud to be part of creating our future transport system.”

The GATEway Project has been jointly funded by the government and private industry. Money has been provided by the £100m Intelligent Mobility Fund that is administered by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles – a government agency jointly run by the Department for Transport and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The project has cost £8m.

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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