Driverless shuttle Harry to drive people in London trial run

05 Apr 2017


The UK public will get its first extended trial of a driver-less bus with around 100 people traveling in a prototype on a route in Greenwich in the next three weeks.

The vehicle, known as Harry (named in honour of engineer John Harrison), travelled at a speed of 10mph and is controlled by a computer, though there will be a trained driver on board who can stop the shuttle if required.

Five thousand people had applied to take part in the trial run. The shuttle, which has no steering wheel or brake pedal, can seat four people.

The bus was developed by Oxbotica, formerly Oxford University's Mobile Robotics Group, Heathrow Enterprises and Westfield Sportscars as part of the Gateway Project (standing for Greenwich Automated Transport Environment).

The trial will gauge how the technology functioned with people on board in a normal environment.

It will use its software to detect, and avoid, obstacles whilst transporting the public.

During the trial, it will use three lasers and five cameras to navigate a two-mile path near the O2, also used by pedestrians and cyclists. The eight-hour period of operation will see the shuttle collect a huge four terabytes of data, equivalent to 2,000 hours of film.

The O2 Arena in London is heavily used by pedestrians and cyclists.

The trials are being conducted to test its ease of functionality and explore the human rider's pre-conceptions of boarding a driver-less vehicle and any barriers to acceptance through detailed interviews before and after the ride.

"It is critical that the public are fully involved as these technologies become a reality," industry minister Nick Hurd said in a statement sent to IBTimes UK.

Though such tests, which allowed journalists and company employees to the test the buses had been conducted earlier, this was the first time the public in the city would get a taste of what it was like being driven by a driver-less machine.

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