Whether you like it or not, they are coming. Driverless vehicles. Technology is going so fast that they will be part of tomorrows world. Over the next three weeks, the public in the UK can get used to them through a test in Greenwich, London. A computer-controlled prototype shuttle travels just over 16 kilometres per hour through the streets. It can seat four people and has no steering wheel or brake pedal.
Driverless cars will most probably be the most significant change we have seen in over a hundred years in transportation. And it is something the whole world is interested in. These automated shuttle vehicles are designed to operate without any human intervention. And the technology used in these London vehicles can apply to all kinds of transportation, cars, busses, pods etc.
The GATEway project
The GATEway project is a jointly funded project by industry and government, looking at the societal impact and implications of the introduction of driverless technologies.
Goal is to improve road safety, as 90 percent of deaths by traffic accidents are caused by an element of human error. The GATEway project is all about connecting people with technology, as the implications on society are absolutely huge.
Uniquely, the focus of the study is not the technology but how it functions alongside people in a natural environment. This first trial will explore people’s pre-conceptions of driverless vehicles and barriers to acceptance through detailed interviews with participants before and after they ride in the shuttle.
Residents and visitors are invited to leave feedback via an interactive map.
Sensors and connectivity
The vehicle is using a variety of sensors to make sure that it is detecting people, animals and all other obstacles, and is produced by Oxbotica. To navigate in this complex real-world environment, the shuttle will use Oxbotica’s Selenium autonomy software, which is a vehicle-agnostic, sensor-agnostic autonomy solution for a wide range of platforms (e.g., low-speed shuttles to high-speed road vehicles). The system uses onboard sensors, such as cameras and lasers, to locate itself in its map, perceive and track dynamic obstacles around it, and plan a safe obstacle-free trajectory to the goal. It does this without any reliance on GPS. High data-rate 3D laser range finders are used for obstacle detection and tracking, and an additional safety curtain is used for redundancy in order to maximise safety.
This technology has advanced so much that it is expected that it will disrupt transportation in the near future very much. Have a look at the vehicle driving in this video from skyNEWS: