Milton Keynes now has self-driving cars

The car traveled for 1.25 miles in the streets and has a top speed of 15 mph


Milton Keynes, a city known for its grid-like road system and roundabouts, now has autonomous cars. The LUTZ Pathfinder autonomous car, built by the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC), has been tested for the first time on UK streets. Using virtual maps, the two-seater car has driven on pathways around the city in its full autonomous mode.

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Travelling up to 15 mph, the vehicle moved around the streets avoiding pedestrians on a 1.25-mile route. The public tests had been preceded by 18 months of development and TSC working with the local council on safety issues.

TSC said the first test of the car was successful and it behaved as it was expected to.

While the car is able to operate completely autonomously and without a person steering it, a driver was sat in the control seat in case the vehicle needed to be controlled.

The car uses Lidar – a system similar to radar – to detect objects in front of it.

This allows it to respond to people, animals, or cyclists that move in front of it. “Driverless vehicles are coming to Britain and what we have demonstrated today is a huge step on that journey,” Neil Fulton, the TSC programme director, said.

The software in the cars has been developed by academics at the University of Oxford. A 25-person company called Oxbotica is using computer vision and cloud-based services to help the cars communicate with others in a future fleet.

The fully-automated vehicle was unveiled in September 2015 and looks like a blockier version of Daimler’s Smart Fortwo.

The initial trials will be developed into a larger scale programme that will see a fleet of 40 self-driving pods on pedestrianized streets and road-based autonomous vehicles in Milton Keynes and Coventry.

The project is one of three taking place in UK cities to develop driverless car technologies.

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