GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) have begun testing driverless cars, inviting the public to try the shuttle buses and give their opinion on them.
The latest phase of the GATEway Project, the prototype shuttle, named ‘Harry’ in honour of navigation visionary John Harrison, will be tested on 2km route around the Greenwich Peninsula. The shuttle is using advanced sensors and autonomy software to detect and avoid obstacles whilst carrying members of the public, who are participating in the research study.
‘Harry’ has no steering wheel or typical driver controls and will use Oxbotica’s Seleniumautonomy software, which is a vehicle-agnostic, sensor-agnostic autonomy solution.
The shuttle is equipped with onboard sensors, such as cameras and lasers that will gather data from the surrounding environment to locate itself on its map, perceive and track dynamic obstacles around it and plan a safe obstacle-free trajectory to the target destination.
Still, during the trial, a trained driver/attendant will be on board to stop the vehicles if needed.
Officials behind the project believe that driverless vehicles will improve transportation in cities:
Professor Nick Reed, Academy Director at TRL said: “This research is another milestone in the UK’s journey towards driverless vehicles and a vital step towards delivering safer, cleaner and more effective transport in our cities.”
The last phase of GATEway project, which began on Wednesday, is also aimed to deliver an understanding of the public perception and acceptance of driverless vehicles in the UK.
Professor Reed added: ““It is critical that the public are fully involved as these technologies become a reality. The GATEway Project is enabling us to discover how potential users of automated vehicles respond to them so that the anticipated benefits to mobility can be maximised. We see automated vehicles as a practical solution to delivering safe, clean, accessible and affordable last-mile mobility. I’m hugely proud of the work that has been undertaken in preparing for these tests and excited to move on to public testing.”
The GATEway Project is a world-leading research programme, led by TRL and funded by government and industry that aims to demonstrate the use of automated vehicles for ‘last mile’ mobility.
Rob Wallis, CEO at TRL said: “Today we are seeing a major industry shift towards the electrification and connectivity of vehicles, the use of shared mobility schemes, and the development of driverless vehicle technologies. TRL believes that the existing close partnership between UK Government and British businesses focused on connected and autonomous vehicles is critical to ensure the UK plays its role as a major global innovator within this market disruption. GATEway is a great example of where we can all learn more about how people understand, and respond to, the introduction of driverless vehicles.”
Here at Cities Digest we will keep an eye on this project and others that are being piloted elsewhere, the really interesting aspect is that the project focuses on the public perception of driverless vehicles and how the technology binds in with the natural environment. As with all smart city projects the citizen-centred approach should offer a greater chance of making a positive impact.