Public research ‘shaping the future of driverless vehicles’

12.00 | 5 April 2017 |

Over the next three weeks members of the public will participate in the first extended trial of driverless technology in London.

Launched today (5 April) as part of the GATEway project, the trial will examine public acceptance of, and attitudes towards, driverless vehicles.

The trial will see a prototype driverless shuttle navigate a 2km route around the Greenwich Peninsula at speeds of up to 10mph, using advanced sensors and software to detect and avoid obstacles, while carrying members of the public.

While the vehicle will be controlled by a computer, a ‘safety steward’ will be on board at all times to comply with the UK’s code of practice on automated vehicle testing.

The focus of the study is not the technology itself, but how it functions alongside people in a natural environment. The trial will explore people’s preconceptions of driverless vehicles and barriers to acceptance, through detailed interviews with participants before and after they ride in the shuttle. Residents and visitors to Greenwich are also invited to leave feedback via an interactive map.

Launched in 2016, the GATEway Project is a research programme, led by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and funded by government and industry. It aims to demonstrate the use of automated vehicles for ‘last mile’ mobility, connecting existing transport hubs with residential and commercial areas using a zero emission, low noise transport system.

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. The GATEway Project is enabling us to discover how potential users of automated vehicles respond to them so that the anticipated benefits to mobility can be maximised.

“We see automated vehicles as a practical solution to delivering safe, clean, accessible and affordable last-mile mobility. I’m hugely proud of the work that has been undertaken in preparing for these tests and excited to move on to public testing.”

GATEway is one of three projects awarded funding by Innovate UK under a competition entitled ‘Introducing driverless cars to UK roads’. The other two projects are UK Autodrive in Coventry and Milton Keynes, and Venturer in Bristol.

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