Registration opens for UK’s first public driverless vehicle trials


Members of the public can now register to take part in the UK’s first public driverless vehicle trials, which are due to take place later this year in the Royal Borough of Greenwich in London.

The trials are part of the GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project, which is an £8m (US$11.5m) research project to investigate the use, perception and acceptance of autonomous vehicles in the UK.

Taking place in the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab @ Greenwich, and led by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), the trials will see fully electric automated vehicles navigating their way around the London borough. Members of the public can now register for their chance to be involved in the trials, which seek to understand how a range of different user groups feel about the use of fully automated vehicles. Those chosen to be part of the trials will be given the chance to ride in a driverless vehicle and asked to provide their views about the experience. Some participants may also be invited to share their views in interviews before and after using a vehicle.

In addition to physical vehicle trials, members of the public can also register to take part in workshops to help envision the future of driverless vehicles. The workshops, which will take place from June this year, seek to better understand people’s attitudes toward the use of automated vehicles and their operation in cities.

Participants will be encouraged to discuss and debate the topic, as well as participate in creative activities with designers and researchers from GATEway partner, the Royal College of Art. Those with experience or knowledge of Greenwich are also encouraged to share their views on driverless vehicles via a web-based sentiment mapping tool. The site, developed and managed by GATEway partner Commonplace, provides members of the public with a chance to provide feedback on how driverless vehicles might impact life in and around the borough. Contributors are able to revisit the site as many times as they like, adding as many comments as they wish, whenever they choose, throughout the duration of the project.

“Making driverless cars a reality is going to revolutionize our roads and travel, making journeys safer, faster and more environmentally friendly,” noted UK Business Secretary Sajid Javid. “Very few countries can match our engineering excellence in the automotive sector, or our record on innovative research, and this announcement shows we are already becoming one of the world’s leading centers for driverless cars technology.”

Professor Nick Reed, director at TRL and technical lead of the GATEway project, added, “The move to automated vehicles is probably the most significant change in transport since the transition from horse-drawn carriages to motorized vehicles. Testing these vehicles in a living environment, like the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab, takes the concept from fiction to reality. It gives the public a chance to experience what it’s like to ride in an automated vehicle and to make their own mind up as to how much they like it, trust it, and could accept it as a service in the city.”

To see a video of the pod making its debut in Greenwich click here.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).