Google's self-driving car has already brought widespread automated-automobiling one step closer. Now, a UK town has announced plans to establish a driverless public transportation system.
Milton Keynes, home to about 40,000 residents, and situated approximately 87 kilometres northwest of London, will soon host a fleet of 100 self-driving pods. Each has the capacity to carry two passengers, as well as luggage, and can travel up to 19km per hour. Electronic motors provide power and, at first, the pods will travel in their own lanes. These are likely to be dispensed with once passengers have developed the confidence to travel driver-free.
A smartphone app will facilitate the reservation and payment of journeys, which will take place between the Milton Keynes train station and various locations in the town centre — about 1.6km away. Each trip is expected to cost 2 GBP ($3.44), with total revenue to amount to 1 million GBP after 12 months.
The system will begin its test run in 2015. Initially, just twenty pods, featuring joysticks or steering wheels enabling human intervention, will be used, with all 100 expected to be in full swing by 2017. The trial period will last five years, at a cost of 65 million GBP.
Driverless pods have been used at Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport, since 2011. During the past two years, a fleet of 21 vehicles travelling along a 3.8km track has transported more than 700,000 passengers. The difference with the pods planned for Milton Keynes is that they will not have the advantage of an installed guideway. Instead, their technology is closer to that utilised in self-driving automobiles, dependent on a combination of GPS, sensors and HD cameras.
Via the Independent.
Published on November 22, 2013 by Jasmine Crittenden