Bristol Airport has begun a trial for driverless pods that will be used on the same roads shared by busses cars and pedestrians.
The project, launched by Capri, was previously tested on designated roads & shared spaces with pedestrians only. The pods will run along a route which stretches 548 metres between the car park and terminal and will cost a total of £4.2 million.
Capri state the aim of the project was to ensure that the pods were safe when encountering cyclists and pedestrians of all ages who may be distracted.
The electric powered pods are also designed to help the airport cut its carbon emissions on the ground. The airport was chosen as the pods were originally developed by Bristol firm Advanced Transport Systems.
Dr Julian Turner, chief executive of Westfield Technology which makes the pods, said: “The design came out of the local area so it’s great to bring it back again.
“The vehicle will navigate, slow down if someone walks in front of it and take you to your destination.”
Although this concept has already landed at Heathrow Airport, there has never been an example of driverless cars which share the roads with other motorists and pedestrians. Projects up until this point have somewhat been without the aid of a designated driver, but always required an engineer within the vehicle clutching the emergency stop button.
Recently In Gloucestershire, an example of the UK’s first on-road demonstration of a driverless car interacting with a bus has recently taken place.
This entailed wireless communication between both a bus owned by First West of England and a BAE ‘Wildcat’ vehicle equipped with connected and autonomous technology, was carried out by the VENTURER consortium.
The concept of this technology essentially allowed the driverless vehicle to be notified that the road ahead was clear so the vehicle could then safely navigate around a stopped bus despite having obstructed vision. It is great to see now that Bristol Airport are now taking the technology further to both better the environment and make passenger transport around the site that much safer.