Recent trials in Milton Keynes have given a glimpse into the future of travel, with autonomous pods providing first-mile and last-mile transport to help local people, shoppers and visitors get around.
Milton Keynes Council has been working with Aurrigo as part of the UK Autodrive project, testing the company’s self-driving pods on pavements between Milton Keynes Central railway station and the city centre. The pods are capable of travelling up to 15 miles per hour and lasting up to 60 miles off one charge.
Although the trials have now come to an end there are plans for the pods to continue operating in Milton Keynes, with a service being offered to residents in the near future.
“We are thrilled to have seen the successful demonstration of the technology here in Milton Keynes,” said Brian Matthews, head of transport innovation at Milton Keynes Council. “What we have seen is the potential for this technology to develop into a full blown public transport service. This is important to us because we want to have the ability to provide first- and last-mile mobility options that can help people get about their business in an efficient and safe way and give improved travel options for those who cannot drive or might find it difficult to use buses, cycles or have difficulty walking.”
Aurrigo is also in talks with a number of potential customers to supply pods for use within university campuses, theme parks, shopping malls and retirement villages.
Separate UK Autodrive trials took place on the streets of Coventry and the three-year project came to an end last month with three days of complex demonstrations across the two cities – featuring new modes of travel, collaboration between three global car manufacturers, innovative technological features, complex urban environments, and an international conference dedicated to connected and autonomous vehicles.
The advances demonstrated during the project will shape “the next generation of vehicles, the roads, regulations and safeguards needed to accommodate them, and the people using them,” said Arup’s Tim Armitage, UK Autodrive project director.