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Greenwich plans driverless vehicle trial



GATEway project team calls for members of the public to sign up for test runs in shuttle

The London Borough of Greenwich has put out a call for members of the public to register to take part in the UK’s first public driverless vehicle trials, due to take place later this year.

It has asked them to ride around the Greenwich Peninsula – the area which contains the O2 Arena, the approach road to the Blackwall Tunnel and a growing number of residential developments – in a small fleet of electric automated shuttle vehicles. They will then be asked to provide their views on the experience.

It has also asked for volunteers for a series of workshops on the future of driverless vehicles, due to take place next month, and for those who know the area to share their views through a web based sentiment mapping tool.

It is part of the £8 million GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project, jointly funded by Innovate UK and industry, in which the council is working with the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and partners including Commontime, which built the web tool.

While the exact route is still to be determined, Nick Reed, academy director at TRL, said it will take in an area where the vehicle will move alongside pedestrians and cyclists. All of the shuttles will be driven around the route to map it out, following which they will be able to navigate it autonomously using a combination of lasers, sensors, cameras and software.

A 3D map of the environment will be created in advance by a laser scanning vehicle driving the route, so the shuttles can use their own scanning and camera systems to check their positions against the map.

Responding to hazards

“The sensors and reference maps are also what enable the vehicles to detect obstacles, hazards and pedestrians on the route, and the software decides how the vehicle should respond in order to proceed safely,” he said. “The scans created by the shuttle vehicles are also used to update the pre-recorded maps to ensure other vehicles have the latest information to guide their movements.”

He added: “The move to automated vehicles is probably the most significant change in transport since the transition from horse drawn carriages to motorised vehicles.

“Testing these vehicles in a living environment, like the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab, takes the concept from fiction to reality. It gives the public a chance to experience what it’s like to ride in an automated vehicle and to make their own mind up as to how much they like it, trust it and could accept it as a service in the city.”

Greenwich and TRL are also involved in the Atlas project, which is investigating the use of driverless cars on public roads and how it will affect future demands on highways management.

The borough has adopted a smart city strategy in which it has plans including smart transport and building an extensive internet of things capability.

Picture from TRL


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