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This article was published on February 11, 2015


    Fleet of 40 ‘driverless pods’ to hit the UK’s footpaths later this year

    Fleet of 40 ‘driverless pods’ to hit the UK’s footpaths later this year
    Ben Woods
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    Ben Woods

    Europe Editor

    Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional online poker player. You can contact him via Twitter or on Google+.

    A trial run of 40 LUTZ Pathfinder driverless pods will take to the streets paths of Milton Keynes in the UK later this year, according to the ‘UK’s innovation center for Intelligent Mobility,’ better known (perhaps) as the Transport Systems Catapult.

    The first of the pods will be unveiled at a government launch event in London today, and when they arrive will be the first self-driving vehicles to work on public footpaths. Each pod can carry two passengers and will come equipped with routing and sensor technology from the University of Oxford’s Mobile Robotics Group.

    DriverlessPodInfo
    The info panel for a driverless pod showing the speed (left and bottom-right), proximity sensors, remaining charge and power consumption.

    The test will be carried out in what is being called an “urban laboratory” on a route around Milton Keynes agreed by the local council, and the fleet of 40 will be “gradually introduced following a series of tests in a safe, controlled environment.”

    Of course, with LUTZ Pathfinders on the sidewalk and driverless cars taking to UK roads, some people could be worried about the safety implications of autonomous vehicles. Neil Fulton, program director at the Transport Systems Catapult, said that safety features like pedestrian protection, low vehicle speed and 19 electronic sensors/cameras all contribute to the overall safety for testing. There’s also an emergency stop button, which is good to know.

    ➤ Transport Systems Catapult