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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
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: Moodle Developer (PHP ,Linux, Apache, MySQL, Moodle)

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Moodle Developer (PHP ,Linux, Apache...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior .NET Web Developer - Winform / MVC

    £21000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Award-winning pharma softw...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Java Developer

    £30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Java Developer is requ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there