GATEway project seeks public opinion as Greenwich prepares for driverless vehicles

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Ahead of the arrival of the first driverless vehicle in Greenwich in London next month, the GATEway project is asking members of the public to share what they think about this new breed of vehicles.

One of three projects awarded by Innovate UK to introduce driverless cars to the UK, the GATEway program is also an important part of the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s integrated smart city strategy that was launched in 2015. Local residents, businesses, commuters, students and visitors are being encouraged to share their views on driverless vehicles via a web-based sentiment mapping tool, as part of a series of public engagement activities within GATEway, which will investigate the use, perception and acceptance of automated vehicles in the UK. Designed by experts from Commonplace, the online heat map is intended to track any changes in public attitude toward driverless vehicles during the two-year project, with contributors able to revisit the site as many times as they like, adding multiple comments. As well as assessing people’s attitudes toward driverless vehicles, contributors will also be asked where they think such vehicles would and would not work within the area.

Work has already begun to prepare for the arrival of the very first GATEway driverless shuttle in Greenwich, ahead of public trials. As part of the trials, a fleet of up to seven shuttles will run along a set 1.5-mile (2.5km) route round the Greenwich Peninsula, from the InterContinental Hotel to John Harrison Way, with operation beginning in November. To enable trials to take place safely and efficiently, the GATEway team has made some changes to Olympian Way, including special new road markings to show where the shuttles will operate. From November, shuttles will run in a dedicated lane, alongside a separate shared pedestrian and cycle lane. Pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use Olympian Way throughout the trial period. The shuttle trial aims to demonstrate the use of automated vehicles for first-mile/last-mile mobility, seamlessly connecting residential locations, commercial areas and transport hubs by a zero emission, low noise, on-demand transport system.

“Over the course of the GATEway project we will be trialing a number of driverless vehicles in Greenwich,” commented Mike Saunders, co-founder of Commonplace. “But what we’re really interested in is finding out is what the public think of this new technology.”

Councilor Sizwe James, of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, added, “This is a chance for members of the public to provide feedback on how driverless vehicles might impact life in and around Greenwich. This is going to be one of the most significant transformations in our transport system, and we’re putting local people right at the center of exciting transformation.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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