Self-driving vehicles have been successfully trialled in public for the first time in Britain.
The trial was been carried out by Transport Systems Catapult (TSC), the UK’s innovation centre for intelligent mobility, in pedestrian areas around Milton Keynes’ train station and business district.
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The vehicles operate entirely without human control, using data from cameras and lidars (a type of radar) to navigate their way around.
TSC said the first public test-drive of a self-driving vehicle in the UK was successful, marking the conclusion of the LUTZ Pathfinder Project, which has been developing the technology for the past 18 months.
The project team ran a number of exercises in preparation for the demonstration, including virtual mapping of Milton Keynes, assessing public acceptance, safety planning and establishing the regulatory environment with the support of Milton Keynes Council.
The autonomy software that runs the vehicle, called Selenium, was developed by Oxford University’s Oxford Robotics Institute and integrated on to an electric vehicle by Oxford University spinout company Oxbotica.
Neil Fulton, programme director at TSC, said: ‘This public demonstration represents a major milestone for autonomous vehicles in the UK and the culmination of an extensive project involving UK companies and experts.
‘Oxford University’s technology will go on to power automated vehicles around the world and the LUTZ Pathfinder project will now feed into a much wider programme of autonomous trials across the UK. Driverless vehicles are coming to Britain and what we have demonstrated today is a huge step on that journey.’
TSC said its Automated Transport Systems team ‘will continue to research the challenges and promote the benefits of increased automation in transport’.
Mr Fulton said TSC has started work building an automated vehicle test and integration facility, which will enable other UK universities and small and medium-sized enterprises to work with it on new self-driving technology.
Road Expo takes place on the 2-3 November in Edinburgh this year. The event will feature more than 100 exhibitors and two CPD certified seminar theatres, curated by Transport Scotland and SCOTS.To book your free place register here.