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GATEway shuttle trials underway | Courtesy Oxbotica
GATEway shuttle trials underway | Courtesy Oxbotica
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Self-Driving Shuttle Bus Trial Begins in London

Picture of Peter Ward
Tech Editor
Updated: 5 April 2017
Londoners will be able to try out a new driverless shuttle bus over the next three weeks, as part of a trial for the vehicles, which are controlled by computer.

Around 100 people will travel on the prototype shuttle, which will run on a route in Greenwich. The vehicle holds four people and will have a trained person on board able to stop the shuttle if necessary.

The shuttle drives along at 10mph (16.1kmph) and has no steering wheel or brake pedal. Five cameras and three lasers are used to help the vehicle navigate its route, which is a two-mile riverside path near the O2 Arena, also used by cyclists and pedestrians, but not cars.

The shuttle can see up to 100 meters (328 feet) ahead of itself and comes to a steady stop if something is in its way.

This is not the first trial of driverless cars in the UK, however. Oxbotica, the company behind the self-driving shuttle in London, allowed journalists and some members of the public in Milton Keynes to try out its driverless cars.

Oxbotica told the BBC that 5,000 people had applied to be part of the latest trial in London.

In January, Paris debuted a self-driving shuttle that runs between Austerlitz and Gare de Lyon train stations in the city’s 12th arrondissement. The shuttles operate seven days a week from 2-8 p.m., but will end April 7.

Also in January, Las Vegas trialled an autonomous bus up and down Fremont Street, and back in August 2016, Singapore offered driverless rides to the public via its taxi app. In September, it was revealed driverless boats would be appearing on Amsterdam’s canals.

Self-driving cars and shuttles have the potential to change cities completely, especially in the context of public transportation. Autonomous shuttles would be cheaper and more flexible, so congestion would be reduced, along with emissions.