The UK’s House of Lords Science and Technology Committee have visited the GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) Project in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, one of the research and development programs for self-driving vehicles in the UK.
The Committee has been exploring the potential uses and benefits of autonomous vehicles and the transition path needed for the co-existence of autonomous and conventional road vehicles. It has heard evidence from government officials, academics and industry experts on how driverless vehicles will fit into the wider transport strategy, while also exploring the socio-economic aspects in the deployment of self-driving cars.
During the site visit to Greenwich, members had the opportunity to see and test the technology for themselves. The Committee witnessed final testing of the first GATEway shuttle vehicle ahead of the upcoming public trials, and experienced the UK Transport Research Laboratory’s (TRL) MiniDigiSim portable driving simulator. Members were also taken for a ride in Geni, a development vehicle from GATEway partner Oxbotica that navigates using the company’s Selenium autonomous operating system.
Work is being completed for the first public trials of the GATEway driverless shuttle in early 2017. To enable the trials to take place safely and efficiently, the GATEway project team has made some changes to Olympian Way and the surrounding area, including new road markings to show where the shuttles will operate. When the trials commence, the shuttle will run in a dedicated lane alongside a separate shared pedestrian and cycle lane, and pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to safely use Olympian Way throughout the trial period. The shuttle trial aims to demonstrate the ‘real-world’ 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.
Speaking about the Greenwich visit, Committee chairman Lord Selborne said, “Over the course of our inquiry we have heard compelling evidence on how autonomous vehicles can benefit society and the economy. However, if we are to realistically see these cars on UK roads in the near future, research and investment is vital. Projects such as GATEway ensure the roads are ready for driverless vehicles, as well as the efficient integration of sophisticated automated transport systems into complex real-world environments.”