Milton Keynes will have 20 driverless cars buzzing about the town by 2015 as part of a £1.5 million project.
The British Government scheme will deliver a batch of 20 driverless pods by 2015 to the Buckinghamshire town, which will drive on lanes separate from pedestrians.
The project hopes to introduce 100 autonomous pods by 2017 to ferry people between the Milton Keynes train station and the main shopping centre.
A journey in the 2-man driverless pod will cost £2. They can reach speeds of up to 12mph and are expected to make £1 million in revenue by the end of the first year.
Future pod commuters will be able to download a special smartphone app to book and pay for the pod journeys.
The 20 trial pods will have steering wheels or joysticks for controls, but will pretty much be able to drive themselves.
The Government project hopes to cut down traffic, pollution and driver stress and one day the technology could be extended to major roads as well.
“People basically come into MK on the train and they want to go to the city centre, or there is a very large office community around the train station and they may actually want to go to the city centre for a short period and come back,” said Jon Beasley, Programme Director from the Transport Systems Catapult, one of the project’s collaborators.
“Basically it gives them the option to get to the city centre comfortably, safely, they can continue processing and doing work, reading emails, reading papers whilst they go to the city centre itself. So they don’t have to concentrate in the long term how they drive these things.”
Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 already uses a similar type of pod, also designed by Ultra Global, but the Milton Keynes’ versions will have GPS, high-definition cameras and sensors to navigate and avoid pedestrians.