The UK’s first fully automated shuttle is to be trialled in Greenwich as part of research into public acceptance of, and attitudes towards, driverless vehicles.
In the latest phase of the GATEway Project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment), the prototype shuttle will operate on a 2km route around the Greenwich Peninsula, using advanced sensors and autonomy software to detect and avoid obstacles whilst carrying members of the public.
The project is led by the Transport Research Laboratory and funded by government and industry. It aims to demonstrate how automated vehicles can be used for urban and ‘last-mile’ mobility, connecting existing transport hubs with residential and commercial areas using a zero emission, low noise transport system.
In this study, the focus is not on the technology itself but how it functions alongside people in a real-world environment. The researchers want to find out people’s pre-conceptions of driverless vehicles and barriers to acceptance through detailed interviews with passengers before and after they ride in the shuttle.
Professor Nick Reed, Academy director at TRL, said: “This research is another milestone in the UK’s journey towards driverless vehicles and a vital step towards delivering safer, cleaner and more effective transport in our cities.
“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. I’m hugely proud of the work that has been undertaken in preparing for these tests and excited to move on to public testing.”