London’s First Autonomous Cars
London’s driverless cars are scheduled for July, 2016 following a total of £8 million investment in the project. The location has been finalized and shall be the streets of Greenwich, south London. A total of 7 cars are slated to be tested and the route has yet to be finalized. It is being considered that the group of 7 cars shall be circulating the residential areas and might also be cruising close to North Greenwich subway station and O2 arena. The Heathrow shuttles will become the first driverless vehicles to be tested on London’s roads
The car has been inspired from the shuttle pods that are used at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 for transporting passengers. These shuttle pods run only on their dedicated tracks though, however, the autonomous car shall be able to cruise down the roads without any assist. The GATEway project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) is being led by UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL). TRL has stated that it wants to wait for public approval while saying, “The project has been jointly funded by Innovate UK and the industry, and the trial aims to assess the public’s willingness to use autonomous vehicles in built-up areas.”
The Sportscars Westfield car factory shall be responsible for the designing and subsequent testing while Heathrow Enterprises shall be tackling software engineering.
Oxbotica – Oxford University Robotics Lab spin-off – is in charge of providing safety sensors and maps. Julian Turner, head of Westfield Sportscars, says that the company is more than eager to test the new equipment. He further added, “We’re really pleased to be a part of the Gateway consortium and are looking forward to bringing our innovative, lightweight, technology to a well-known and tried and tested platform.”