Over the next three weeks, about 100 Londoners will get a chance to ride a prototype driverless shuttle bus on a route in Greenwich. The autonomous vehicle will work on a 2km route and this experiment marks the first London driverless bus trial for members of the public.
Developed by Oxbotica, formerly Oxford University's Mobile Robotics Group, the prototype is called 'Harry' (in honour of navigation visionary John Harrison). The shuttle which can travels up to 10mph, will have five cameras and three lasers that will help it navigate a specified riverside path near London's O2 Arena, an area heavily used by pedestrians and cyclists.
The focus of the trials will be to test its ease of functionality alongside people in a natural environment. It will explore the human rider's pre-conceptions of boarding a driverless vehicle and any barriers to acceptance through detailed interviews before and after the ride.
"It is critical that the public are fully involved as these technologies become a reality," Industry Minister Nick Hurd said in a statement sent to IBTimes UK.
Although several other driverless bus tests have taken place in London allowing journalists and company employees to test the buses, this is the first time the public in the city will get a taste of what its like being driven by a machine autonomously. Other cities like Singapore have already held public trials for such shuttles.
The bus is part of the GATEway Project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) and uses a software system called Selenium, which enables real time, robust navigation, planning and perception.
"The project exemplifies the innovation that the UK excels at, and through our Industrial Strategy, we will continue to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of this cutting edge work," emphasised Hurd.