Look Mom! No hands! Or better yet, Look Ma! No Driver!
Weird statements that could be heard in the near future as London’s first driverless shuttle bus test drives for the public.
The prototype “Harry” (named after navigation visionary John Harrison) is developed by Oxbotica, a research group from Oxford University that specializes in robotics, mobile autonomy, and navigation.
Having no steering wheel and brake pedal, five cameras and three lasers help navigate the bus and see up to 100m (328ft) ahead. It uses the technology called “Lidar” which is a laser sensor that can create a 3D image of the environment.
The vehicle not only picks up anything that is static which it uses as a reference point, but also detects things that are moving in the environment (even a dog), so it can respond appropriately– like putting it into a halt if necessary.
During the test runs, a trained person will be on board to carry out an emergency stop if needed.
The robot shuttle can run up to 10 miles per hour or 16.09 kilometers per hour.
Over the next three weeks, up to 100 people will test ride the four-seat capacity shuttle on a pedestrian and cyclist-filled route in Greenwich.
Similar studies were already carried out in Singapore and Las Vegas; ridden by journalists and developers.
“Very few people have experienced an autonomous vehicle, so this is about letting people see one in person,” chief executive Graeme Smith told BBC News.
Moreso, they also want to know the opinions and thoughts of the public throughout their ride experience for they are the ones who will use it, and they are the reason why it was built in the first place.
The research group believes that paying passengers could start using the system by 2019.