Newly adapted, and futuristic looking, electronic, driverless cars will soon be roaming around London as part of a trial which will see how well the cars can deal with the streets of Greenwich.
The design of the cars has been revealed, and they are a modified and updated form of the electric passenger shuttles that are in service at Heathrow Airport.
The cars will be tested in Greenwich as part of the Gateway project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment). Seven cars, or “pods” as they are being referred to as, will be let loose on the pavements around the O2 area of Greenwich from July onwards.
Other trials are reportedly to take place in Coventry, Bristol, and Milton Keynes.
The £8million project is led by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and involves the efforts of several different UK based companies.
The most major challenge is upgrading the automated shuttles in use at Heathrow Airport to be suitable for the pavement present in and around Greenwich, and adapting the cars so that they don’t need to rely on pre-laid tracks to get around.
A drawback for the trials will be that stewards will have to be on board at all times to look after the vehicles and to operate the emergency stop, should something happen.
Technology is beginning to revolutionise all aspects of our lives. Despite the disappointment felt on Back to the Future day last year that we don’t yet have flying cars, the way we get around is being innovated in truly impressive ways.
It will take a leap of faith for us to put our lives in the ‘hands’ of automated cars, but it is likely the way we will be getting around in a few years’ time. With advancements in tech, and with Apple rumoured to be entering the car industry, the whole industry seems set to take a technological leap forward.