Driverless shuttle gets on the move in Greenwich

Prototype for GATEway Project to be used in testing travellers’ attitudes to autonomous vehicles in public transport

A prototype driverless shuttle vehicle has gone into operation around the Greenwich Peninsula in south London as part of the GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) Project.

Gateway driverless shuttle vehicleIn a move that could prove significant to the public transport elements of smart cities development, the consortium behind the project are sending the vehicle on a 2km route with members of the public on board, both to test its performance and research public attitudes to the technology.

Named ‘Harry’, the vehicle uses the Selenium autonomy software system from Oxbotica to navigate its way around the route, using real time information from its 3D laser range sensors to perceive and track moving obstacles and plan a safe way through. It does not rely at all on GPS technology.

The software is vehicle- and sensor-agnostic and is expected to collect 4Tb of data over an eight-hour shift.

The public have been invited to provide feedback through an interactive map.

While the vehicle can operate without a human driver, a safety steward will remain onboard in line with the code of practice on automated vehicle testing.

Public role critical

Professor Nick Reed, academy director at the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), one of the organisations involved in the project, said: “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.”

The shuttle trial is one of a number taking place as part of the GATEway Project, with others including automated urban deliveries and remote teleoperation demonstrations.

Reed recently predicted that commercial services using automated vehicles in public transport are likely to become available within the next five years, pointing to the Greenwich trial as a significant step towards widespread use of the technology.

Image from TRL