The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) is set to begin the final phase of its GATEway Project, a trial of driverless pods in Greenwich to measure public interest in and acceptance of automated transport.

Over the next four weeks, members of the public will be able to reserve spaces on one of the four pods, which will navigate a 3.4km route around Greenwich Peninsula. Over 5,000 people have already registered an interest in taking part in the trial, and will have priority booking for the journeys.

“This project is enabling us to discover how potential users of automated vehicles respond to them, in a real-world environment, so that the anticipated benefits to mobility can be maximised,” said TRL academy director Richard Cuerden.

“We see driverless vehicles as a practical solution to delivering safe, clean, accessible and affordable mobility and we are proud to be part of creating our future transport system.”

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Developed by Westfield Sportscars and Heathrow Enterprises, and equipped with an automation system designed by Fusion Processing, the pods have no driver-operated controls. They use a combination of Fusion’s CAVstar software, which was trialled in a similar pod in Bristol last year, and long-range GPS and short-range LIDAR software to navigate. The range of navigation tools allows the pods to operate in adverse weather conditions and in the dark.

“The project has not only seen London and the UK emerge as a world leader in automated technology, but is providing valuable sociological insight,” said TRL.

GATEway is funded by the government’s £100 million Intelligent Mobility Fund, and administered by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, as part of a competition organised by Innovate UK. Additional research was conducted by the University of Greenwich, Commonplace and the Royal College of Art.