Electrifying drive in a Brit city

  • Europe
  • Wednesday, 15 Jan 2014

The autonomous pods are similar to those currently used at London's Heathrow airport and are fully electric. - Photo from AFP

British town to offer autonomous driving pods.

BY 2015, Milton Keynes hopes to have up to 100 self-driving electric vehicles available for public use.

The autonomous pods are big enough to seat two plus luggage and will cost passengers £2 (about RM10.50) per trip. Capable of hitting a less than heady 12 mph (19 km/h), the vehicles will use GPS and other sensors to plot a course – initially from Milton Keynes train station and into its commercial centre – without driver input.

However, to ensure user safety, the pods will be equipped with a joystick in case a passenger needs to take control and (for the initial trial at least) they will travel within designated lanes on the road to avoid other vehicles.

The first 100 pods should start appearing on the town’s streets in 2015 and people will be able to book their use or flag one down via a smartphone app.

The vehicles are similar to those currently used at London’s Heathrow airport and are fully electric, powered by a dedicated motor mounted inside each wheel.

Within British popular culture, Milton Keynes, situated north of London, is often the butt of jokes. A “new town” created in the late 1960s, it served as a showcase for a number of new housing technologies and infrastructure ideas, such as streets built on a grid system like in US cities and modernist architecture.

But now the town can claim to be the first in Britain to allow autonomous vehicles. The town was chosen for the trial because of its large pavements and roads. If the pilot scheme is successful, similar initiatives are expected to be launched in other major British towns and cities. – AFP Relaxnews

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