Driverless vehicles to be introduced in Britain by 2015

Saturday 09 November 2013, 11:00 AM by

In a recent development that has taken many by surprise, the Government of United Kingdom has announced plans to develop a new and innovative driverless public transport system. In the biggest test of future generation vehicles, about 100 pods shall be introduced in Milton Keynes that can be easily booked through an accompanying smartphone application. Reportedly, the driverless pods will be able to carry two people in a single journey and will possess an ability to travel at speeds of 19 kmph. In order to offer convenience to passengers, the pods shall come equipped with infotainment screen, which allows the occupants to check their mails and browse the Internet.

Driverless vehicles to be introduced in Britain by 2015 |
Driverless vehicles to be introduced in Britain by 2015

Commenting on this, Vince Cable, Business Secretary, said that 20 percent of the pods would travel on special pathways that will be separated from pedestrians around the Buckinghamshire shopping centre. He further added, “Driverless cars are another invention that has the potential to generate the kind of high-skilled jobs we want Britain to be famous for, as well as cutting congestion and pollution and improving road safety."

The 1.5 million pound driverless pod project is expected become operational from 2015 with the rolling out of 20 pods initially, followed by the addition of 80 more by 2017. The vehicles would operate on separate lanes, which are being built from Milton Keynes rail station to the city centre. Cable further said, "by 2050, very few – if any – new cars will be powered solely by the traditional internal combustion engines, so it is important that the UK car industry is at the cutting edge of low-carbon technologies." The collaborators roped in for the project include engineering consultancy firm Arup, Transport Systems Catapult, Automotive Council UK and couple of universities.

At present, specifications are yet to be announced but a prototype image of the same showed the pods had three wheels with a see-through lid that flips up for occupants to step in or out. As told, the cost incurred on the journeys would be 2 pounds but this would depend on the overall economic conditions in 2015. According to reports, the government is considering the its plans to get the EN-V model of General Motors, which was first unveiled in 2010.

It must be noted that big car makers that include Nissan, Toyota and Volvo are already trying to develop such driverless vehicles with self-driving technology. Recently, Volvo claimed that it has developed a technology in which the control of brakes, engine and steering was taken by a car at the press of two buttons. Also to mention, Google has claimed that its self driven vehicle is in the testing process and has travelled 4 lakh miles without a crash.

Talking about related safety issues, Geoff Snelson, Strategy Director at Milton Keynes Council said "Locally the immediate reaction has been overwhelmingly interest and excitement, we have had questions about how it will work in practice but the initial response is people are very excited. We are hoping people will be queuing up to use the cars and will see it as a point of interest to come visit Milton Keynes."

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