Driverless pods are transporting members of the public around London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with visitors able to test out an innovative mobility service.
The trial is part of a research project that is paving the way for the use of connected and autonomous vehicle transport services at public transport hubs and around private estates, including tourist and shopping centres, hospitals, business parks and airports.
The AECOM-led Capri consortium is running the trial, which will see two British made pods autonomously operating at the Park. Visitors will be able to book a ride using an app through information marshals located at different stops along the pods’ route. When booking their journey, participants will choose which stop they want to be picked up and dropped off, with the system giving destination instructions to the self-driving vehicles. Simulating an on-demand service, the trial will help support the wider rollout of driverless shuttles in the future.
With Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park already a testbed for smart mobility activity, alongside a wide range of other innovation projects, an important element of this trial will be to assess peoples’ behaviours and attitudes towards driverless pods. With little existing research on how people interact with CAVs in public spaces, representatives from Capri consortium members the University of the West of England and Loughborough University will be observing how people behave when confronted by the pods, as well as surveying passengers who take a ride on them.
Focusing on trips of up to five miles to connect people to places, Capri is developing the next generation of autonomous pods, as well as the systems and technologies that will allow the vehicles to navigate safely and seamlessly in both pedestrian and road environments. A key aim of the project is to develop a business model blueprint to help site owners of large and diverse estates like Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park assess whether driverless shuttles will be viable at their site and how best to invest in this emerging technology.
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