With no driver behind the wheel, as the ‘pod’ makes its way across the streets in Milton Keynes, Britain has started tests for driverless vehicles for the first time on Tuesday — as a part of its trials aimed at putting autonomous vehicles onto the roads by 2020. The pod navigated its way around a pedestrian area at 5 miles per hour (8 kmph), turning corners and stopping as pedestrians crossed its path.
The electric-powered pod is a two-seater car, adapted heavily from a compact Renault. It has been developed by the Oxford University spin-out Oxbotica. Organizers are hoping the trials will show how the vehicle will interact with road-users and introduce it to the public.
The government is encouraging tech firms and carmakers to develop and test autonomous driving technology in Britain, thus aiming to build an industry to serve a worldwide market which will be worth around 900 billion pounds ($1.1 trillion) by 2025.
The pod is fitted with a tablet computer on the dashboard which allows the car to switch autonomous mode with a touch screen enabled tablet placed on the dashboard.
Carmakers such as Jaguar Land Rover and Ford are both part of many driverless car projects in Britain. These automakers seek to minimise the challenge posed by technology firms such as Alphabet Inc’s Google, which has been developing autonomous vehicles.