Fleet of driverless pods to take over Milton Keynes town centre
Self-driving transports 'part of sci-fi future' says UK minister
Milton Keynes will play host to a fleet of smartphone-controlled driverless pods powered by electric motors and gunning around the town at 12mph.
A hundred of the wee pods, which will only have enough space for two passengers and some luggage, will start rolling around the blocky Midlands town in 2015, whizzing between the central train station, the shopping centre and office blocks a mile away.
Travellers will be charged £2 per journey and will be able to hail the cars off the street or book one to a certain location using their mobiles.
The pods will have an electric motor in each wheel and will use a combination of high-definition cameras and sensors to navigate around obstacles like buildings, roadworks and people. The cars will have their own lane to start out with, but once they’ve proven themselves, they’ll be able to travel on the same paths as pedestrians.
If the Milton Keynes trial period is a success, the car system could be rolled out in towns and cities across the UK, helping to pedestrianise city areas.
The scheme is being funded by the Automotive Council, which has a budget of £65m for a five-year project.
David Willetts, the minister for universities and science, told the Daily Mirror that the plan would be part of our “science fiction future”.
“In 25 years we will look back and be amazed at how much time we used to waste driving ourselves places,” he said.
“We will be hopping into a car that will drive us to the cinema where we will tell it ‘park yourself and come back and get me at 10.15pm.’
“One aim is to see if driverless cars are safer so we can cut road traffic accidents. They don’t get drunk or drive under the influence of drugs. They don't get exhausted and fall asleep.” ®