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Autonomous PODs

What are they?

The pods are fully autonomous which means they don’t need a driver. The pods are four seater vehicles which can also accommodate a wheelchair.

They are the first type of vehicle that will carry passengers around CMK on the footpath.

The pod features different types of cameras and sensors, including radar and the laser-based equivalent ‘lidar’, in order to gather information about its surroundings which enables it to figure out where it is located based on the pre-mapped environment that is already programmed in.

Are they safe? Will they go on the roads?

Full safety tests have already been carried out by the Council’s Highway and road safety teams and the creators of the pods.

Additional tests have been specified by Oxford University Robotics Institute who were behind developing the Mars Rover vehicle. If an obstacle is detected, such as a pedestrian, the pod will slow down and stop.Pods travel at a speed of around 8km per hour. The area they will cover stretches from the railway station to Campbell Park.

Pods travel at a speed of around 8km per hour. The area they will cover stretches from the railway station to Campbell Park.

The Highways team have put in place specific traffic orders which now makes MK the first city to officially allow autonomous pods to operate on its network

Who designed them?

The pods were designed and built by automotive firm RDM. RDM are due to deliver 40 pods by summer 2018.

When will I be able to use one?

The first pods will be operational by the end of 2017 with further pods being added in 2018.

Who has paid for them?

The pods are funded as part of a £20m project with the funding coming from industry and the government.

MK Council has been awarded £250k to support delivery of the service and undertake a detailed business case and impact assessment.

The future of autonomous cars…

More pods are destined for MK with additional funding secured from the government to include AI (artificial intelligence). This will ensure the Pods position themselves on our networks to meet travel demand. In addition to the Pods scheme, MK will be demonstrating saloon cars on the grid roads starting with a managed trial in March 2018.

A KPMG study into autonomous or driverless cars suggested that by 2025 this new industry could be worth £900bn globally.

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