We’ve covered the driverless car before, but it seems more likely that we’ll be getting the “driverless pod” first. A small autonomous vehicle designed to carry up to 4 people through a city route.
In fact, these driverless pods are already in their testing phase. Over the next 3 weeks, at least 100 people are expected to use this shuttle prototype. Currently, the driverless pod follows a route in Greenwich, London and can travel up to 10 miles per hour. However, there’s no steering wheel or pedals in sight, the pod is driven fully autonomously by a computer.
This is only the beginning for the first of its kind vehicle, so whether it’ll be a smooth run or not – who knows. There will be trained personnel on-board the driverless pod during these testing phases, just in case something goes wrong. Which it probably will. Fail-safes are supposedly in place too, allowing the vehicle to brake suddenly if needed. The pod follows a two mile riverside route and will be sharing its tracks with cyclists and pedestrians.
The future is now
Oxbotica – the firm developing the technology behind the pod – said over 5,000 people applied to take part in the testing phase. Chief executive Graeme Smith explains:
“Very few people have experienced an autonomous vehicle, so this is about letting people see one in person,
“We hope to gain acceptance from members of the public for vehicles sharing this kind of space with them.
“We are also looking at how people in the vehicle respond when being transported from A to B.”
The firm has tested autonomous vehicles in the UK before, so this is nothing new to them. Recently, they tested out an autonomous car in Milton Keynes, allowing journalists and a traffic warden on board.
It seems that autonomous vehicle tests are becoming more and more common. It won’t be long until they become the norm at this rate.