Driverless cars, that are capable of sensing their environment and driving without human input, are currently a hot topic as their popular use edges from science fiction to reality. London is not going to miss out on the excitement thanks to the GATEway Project.
The Greenwich Automated Transport Environment is an £8million research project with the goal of seeing how the general public will react and respond to driverless or automated vehicles and what barriers need to be overcome.
The project takes place at the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab which is based in Greenwich and is designed to create an environment for connected and automated vehicles. It was created by TRL (Transport Research Laboratory), a private, independent transport consultancy that is at the forefront of smart mobility. They were established by the UK Government in 1933 and were privatised in 1996.
GATEway is made up of a team of leading companies (including RSA Insurance Group, Shell and Telefónica) and academic institutions. It is jointly funded by the Government and industry. The project aims to test and research how both the general public and industry will react to driverless vehicles and how they could be incorporated safely and efficiently into existing city infrastructure. It will also consider risk, liability and cybersecurity, as well as understanding the technical, cultural, societal and legal challenges to adopting automated vehicles.
Heathrow’s Terminal 5 already uses self-driving pods and has been since 2011 but they are on tracks so it is not quite the same as the work they are doing at GATEway. The GATEway trials use a range of automated vehicles and drive in space shared with pedestrians and cyclists, so not on normal roads, but not on tracks. The trials are taking place in 2016 and 2017 and you can even get involved as some of the trials are open to the public allowing volunteers the opportunity to ride on the vehicles and offer their opinions.
The project ultimately creates a safe and validated testbed environment and in doing so ensures that London, and therefore the UK, is at the forefront of the emerging automated vehicle industry and readies for a future transport system; encouraging investment and creating jobs.