Do not be alarmed if you see this little pod cruising round North Greenwich. The autonomous, driverless vehicle has not captured members of the public but is transporting volunteers on a 2km test route so the engineers that built it can assess how it and the people in and around it respond.
The trials, which kick off on Wednesday, April 5, are the latest phase in the GATEway Project , aimed at demonstrating the use of automated vehicles for “last-mile mobility” connecting existing transport hubs with homes and offices with zero emission systems.
Led by TRL and funded by the Government and industry, the test sessions in Greenwich will look at how the prototype shuttle (named Harry after clockmaker John Harrison rather than the more obvious Shutty McShuttleface) will focus on those riding in it, their preconceptions of driverless vehicles and barriers to acceptance of the technology.
TRL academy director professor Nick Reed 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 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.”
Residents and visitors to the peninsula are invited to leave feedback online to contribute to the project although registration to ride in the shuttle is now closed.
Built by Westfield Sportscars, Heathrow Enterprises and Oxbotica, the shuttle has no steering wheel or driver controls.
Over an eight-hour period of operation, a single vehicle will collect around four terabytes of data – equivalent to 2,000 hours of film or 1.2million photographs.
Fortunately, with feet up there's plenty of time to sort through it while riding in one.
Keep up to date with all our articles on Facebook