A new pilot in London is toying with the idea of autonomous vehicles in an attempt to determine if the fully autonomous pods could play a role in how residents move around the city in the future.
The GATEway pilot in London has set up a test track for its fully autonomous electric pods in the Royal Borough of Greenwich to not only to test the functionality of the pods themselves but also and perhaps more importantly, sense how the public receives the vehicles. To do this, the city set up a trial track and invited the public to come out and ride in them.
After the rides, the team attempts to solicit feedback on the pods to understand how effective they were, if riders felt safe, and what the overall perception of the experience was. More than 5,000 people have already registered for the pilot, with countless others taking advantage of the drop in sessions that allow the public to give the pods a go.
Safety is a priority for the pilot, and with the maximum speed of the pods set to around 10 miles per hour and a closed, fixed course, this is much easier than it would be on city streets with variable speeds and traffic. The counterpoint to a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour is that the pods aren’t extremely functional for actual transit, as it would be faster to take just about any other means of transportation than a pod … but that’s not the point.
The autonomous pods have been running around the pilot track for nearly a year since the pilot first launched in April of 2017 and the team has amassed quite a pool of knowledge, including the performance of the pods during a massive snowstorm. Well designed autonomous vehicles have the potential to drastically increase the safety of personal transportation by eliminating the human factor.
The jury is still out as to whether or not the pods will become the final solution for personal transportation in London, but one thing is for sure — London isn’t the only city interested in the outcome of the pilot. Cities all around the world are looking at the future and increasingly seeing that the future is autonomous … and electric. The pairing of the two have the potential to increase passenger and pedestrian safety while at the same time eliminating vehicular point of use emissions, slash the cost of getting around in the city, and reducing vehicular noise pollution all in one fell swoop.
Source: The Verge | Images courtesy of the GATEway project
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