The first driverless vehicles to be tested in London’s public spaces will be these autonomous pods.
The pods — already in use at Heathrow Airport, where they shuttle people between the business car park and Terminal 5 will be adapted for a trial in Greenwhich, which is due to commence in July.
The electric pods will be modified so that they do not need to run on rails, according to the consortium behind the project, the Gateway Project.
Seven of the pods will be placed on the tarmac in Greenwich Peninsula, where they are expected to shuttle people around areas including North Greenwich tube station, businesses around the O2 Arena, and residential areas.
The trial will last for three months.
“If the trials prove successful, we expect these iconic vehicles to become a familiar sight in many cities around the world,” said Nick Reed, technical director of the Gateway project.
The £8 million project is being jointly funded by the government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, and the private sector.
Speaking at an investment conference this week, Innovate UK CEO Ruth McKernan said the agency she heads up now invests £500 million of public money a year.
“Since 2007, we’ve invested £1.5 billion of public money,” she said. “This is a tidy sum I think but we need to be careful where we invest this money to get maximum impact.”
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