Do you remember the days when cartoons would show flying cars? When the “autopilot” mode was not only limited to airplanes but it was also being used in cars, trains, spaceships and even bikes. Remember the Jetsons? That among others, I’m talking about 90’s TV shows / movies and even TV Commercials. These were all purely fictional yet everybody loved it. Didn’t we all want to one of those? Let’s fast forward to 2017! Most of these fictional ideas are now existing, and no, not in your imagination but in the public transport station next to your office. Let us take a look at London’s Greenwich Peninsula, they are currently testing 7 prototype shuttles for pilot-less public transportation.
Each of the 7 shuttles were designed to carry 4 passengers (select members of the public,) picking-up and dropping them off in different random places. This is called the GATEway project. Before these trials, an early version of these driverless pods has been in operation at the Heathrow Airport for two or three years now – though they are using a special railway track to maneuver the vehicle. The GATEway project is an upgrade from the pods over at Heathrow Airport – including better A.I. software that allows the vehicle to drive thru regular cycle paths and roads, plus adding more sensors around the vehicle.
Besides the technological aspect of the research being done in London, another goal of the GATEway project is to show how driverless vehicles could work as a zero emission transportation, low noise vehicle for residents. And maybe in the near future, this could be an alternative to cars, buses and be the staple method for public transportation. Around 5,000 random people have signed up to experience these new driverless pods. A survey was given to all 5,000 of them to get their thoughts about driverless cars. Then all these people will get their chance to ride the driverless pods and then they will be subjected again to another survey; a survey asking them if their views have changed about driverless vehicles.
Video Courtesy of Youtube:
These driverless shuttle pods are described as the world’s first fully automated shuttle vehicles. Though for this trial period, a trained staff member will be on-board at all times to stop the driverless vehicle if necessary. This trial will run for the next three weeks. Other self-driving cars have been around and they have all been using similar science among them, also with the GATEway project are technologies like surround-cameras and lasers for tracking and location, even detecting obstacles around them. In a span of 8 hours, the self-driving pods can collect 4 terabytes of data that is roughly equivalent to 2,000 hours of film or 1.2 million photographs. There will be other driverless vehicle projects set to take place in the U.K. later this year. Interested? How about be passenger 5,001? Maybe in the future you can even own one! Those 90’s fictional ideas are not that fictional after all!