Milton Keynes introducing driverless public transport pods by 2017

Electric, two-passenger vehicles will run from the train station, ferrying passengers at 12mph for £2 a journey

Milton Keynes has announced plans to deploy a driverless public transport system. 100 pods will be introduced to the town alongside an accompanying smartphone app that can be used to book and pay for journeys.

Each pod will have enough space for two passengers and luggage and will travel up to speeds of 12mph. The pods are powered by electronic motors and will initially be given their own lanes, though there are plans to remove these once residents have become accustomed to the technology.

The pods will be used to ferry passengers between the train station and shopping centres and offices a mile away. Each journey will cost £2, with the project expected to generate £1m of revenue in the first year, and costing a total of £65 million.

"Driverless cars are another invention that has the potential to generate the kind of high-skilled jobs we want Britain to be famous for, as well as cutting congestion and pollution and improving road safety," said business secretary Vince cable.

Cable announced the plans alongside a £75m fund to "make and test low carbon technologies" in the UK, commenting that "by 2050, very few - if any - new cars will be powered solely by the traditional internal combustion engines, so it is important that the UK car industry is at the cutting edge of low carbon technologies."

Twenty trial pods will be introduced in 2015 with steering wheels or joysticks to control them. The full, driverless system will hit the streets later in 2017. The vehicle to be employed has yet to be confirmed, but one in consideration is the EN-V Pride, an urban electric concept car developed by General Motors and Segway (see below for a video).

“It’s a great initiative and we are being as supportive as we can be at the moment to overcome a number of regulating hurdles,” said John Bint, Milton Keynes Council’s cabinet member for transport and highways, told a local paper.

Bint believes that the system will ease parking problems and pollution in the city, but notes that as the pod is neither a nor a taxi the council needs to “work out how it’s going to be permitted.”

“It will continue to boost the reputation as a centre for innovation and it will contribute to local transport needs by completing the jigsaw of our transport system.

The EN-V Pride in Shanghai. Image credit: General Motors

“At the moment we have a great service for long distance travel to MK, but when you get here we need a localised system that can get you from the train station or home to an office or shop without the pollution or parking issues that come with cars and taxis.”

The pods have been designed by Ultra Global, a company that previously installed a system of driverless pods in Heathrow’s Terminal 5. The pods transport 800 passengers each between the terminal’s car park and its main entrance and consists of 21 vehicles operating on a 3.8 kilometer ‘guideway’. The system was installed in 2011 and has since carried more than 700,000 passengers.

Unlike the T5 Heathrow pods, the planned scheme in Milton Keynes will have no guideway, and will instead use a combination of GPS, high definition cameras and ultrasonic sensors to navigate and avoid pedestrians, similar to the technology used in self-driving cars. They will also include large touchscreens that allow passengers to browse the internet or check their emails.

News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

    £13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior IT Support / Projects Engineer

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Director - Product Management

    £75000 - £85000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the largest and fastes...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence