Government sponsored innovation centre the Transport Systems Catapult has successfully tested its self driving vehicles in public for the first time on the pavements of Milton Keynes.
Demonstrations in pedestrianised areas around the city’s train station and business district this week marked the conclusion of the Catapult’s LUTZ Pathfinder project, which has been developing autonomous pod technology over the past 18 months.
In the future it is expected that vehicles like those trialled in Milton Keynes will be used for local transportation in urban areas.
“This public demonstration represents a major milestone for autonomous vehicles in the UK and the culmination of an extensive project involving UK companies and experts,” said the Transport Systems Catapult’s LUTZ Pathfinder programme director Neil Fulton.
The vehicles are controlled by ‘Selenium’ autonomy software which uses data from cameras and LIDAR systems to navigate around the environment. The software was developed by Oxford University’s Robotics Institute and integrated by Oxbotica.
The project team also had to undertake virtual mapping of Milton Keynes, assess public acceptance, develop extensive safety plans and establish the regulatory environment with the support of Milton Keynes Council to enable the trials to go ahead.
Mr Fulton said: “Through the LUTZ Pathfinder project we have started to create a world leading urban test bed for connected and automated vehicles. We can now capitalise on the unique position of having the environment and the development platform to conduct further research and trials.
“To that end we have started work building an automated vehicle test and integration facility, which will enable other UK universities and SMEs to work with the Catapult on new self driving technology.”
Secretary of State for Business and Energy Greg Clark described the demonstrations as a ground breaking moment and commented: “The global market for autonomous vehicles present huge opportunities for our automotive and technology firms.”
This article originally appeared on ITS UK Review.