A new trial in the London borough of Greenwich is looking to pave the way for driverless shuttle buses throughout the UK.
The vehicle, which will operate with a trained driver as a fail-safe in the first instance, will operate along a two-mile riverside path near London’s O2 Arena, transporting 100 people over the next couple of weeks, according to the Telegraph. While there might be some scepticism over the safety of driverless vehicles in certain areas, it certainly doesn’t show here. More than 5000 people applied to be part of the trial.
It will also be called Harry.
“This needs to be like any other form of transportation. It shouldn’t be a white-knuckle ride for passengers,” said Graeme Smith, CEO of Oxbotica, the company responsible for the technology which will power the shuttle bus. “We know we’ve got the software right when the journeys are unremarkable.”
The vehicle itself will be kitted out with five cameras and three lasers to help the computer see up to 100 metres along the path, with a maximum speed of 10 mph. Should an obstruction be detected, the vehicle will decelerate slowly, though emergency brakes are also a possibility should there be a requirement. The path itself will also be populated by pedestrians and cyclists during the trial.
The purpose of the trial is not only to collect data for the development of the vehicle, but also to catalogue the reactions of the general public. This data, while more difficult to analyse and interpret, would be critical in rolling out any further initiatives. Executives behind the initiative, known as the GATEway Project, believe paying customers could use the shuttle from 2019, and it could be rolled out throughout the rest of the UK not too long afterwards.
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