A driverless shuttle has hit London roads for the first time to be tested out by the public

 
Rebecca Smith
The wheels on the bus go round and round (of their own accord)
The wheels on the bus go round and round (of their own accord) (Source: The Gateway Project)

A driverless shuttle has made its way to the capital.

That's right folks, members of the British public are getting their first extended trial of a driverless bus and over the next three weeks around 100 people will travel in a prototype on a route in Greenwich.

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The vehicle, known as Harry (named in honour of engineer John Harrison FYI), travels up to 10mph and will be controlled by a computer, though there will be a trained person on board who can stop the shuttle if need be.

Sadly, you won't be able to try it out just yet, but don't feel too bad - apparently 5,000 members of the public applied to take part, so it's not just you that's missed out.

The shuttle seats four people and has no steering wheel or brake pedal.

It was developed by Oxbotica, Heathrow Enterprises and Westfield Sportscars as part of the Gateway Project (standing for Greenwich Automated Transport Environment).

The aim of the trial is to gauge how the technology functions alongside people in a natural environment. So it will be using its software to detect, and hopefully avoid, obstacles whilst transporting the members of the public around.

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During the trial, five cameras and three lasers will help it navigate a two-mile path near the O2, also used by pedestrians and cyclists. Over an eight-hour period of operation, a shuttle will collect a huge four terabytes of data, equivalent to 2,000 hours of film.

The project is led by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and funded by government and industry. Those behind the project envision it being used by 2019 on a trial basis, with a view to rolling it out elsewhere afterwards.

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."

It is critical that the public are fully involved as these technologies become a reality.

We see automated vehicles as a practical solution to delivering safe, clean, accessible and affordable last-mile mobility.

Harry the driverless shuttle in all his glory:

(Click or tap on the images to see them in full screen)

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