Members of the public can now register to take part in the UK’s first public driverless vehicle trials, due to take place later this year. The trials, which will take place in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, are part of the GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project – an £8m research project to investigate the use, perception and acceptance of autonomous vehicles in the UK.
Taking place in the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab at Greenwich and led by TRL (the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory), the trials will see fully electric automated vehicles navigating their way around Greenwich. Members of the public can now register for their chance to be involved in the trials, which seek to understand how a range of different user groups feel about the use of fully automated vehicles. Those chosen to be part of the trials will be given the chance to ride in a driverless vehicle and asked to provide their views about the experience. Some participants may also be invited to share their views in interviews before and after using a vehicle.
Sajid Javid, Business Secretary, commented: “Making driverless cars a reality is going to revolutionise our roads and travel, making journeys safer, faster, and more environmentally-friendly. Very few countries can match our engineering excellence in the automotive sector or our record on innovative research, and this announcement shows we are already becoming one of the world’s leading centres for driverless cars technology.”
Professor Nick Reed, Director at TRL and Technical Lead of the GATEway project added: “The move to automated vehicles is probably the most significant change in transport since the transition from horse drawn carriages to motorised vehicles. Testing these vehicles in a living environment, like the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab, takes the concept from fiction to reality. It gives the public a chance to experience what it’s like to ride in an automated vehicle and to make their own mind up as to how much they like it, trust it and could accept it as a service in the city.”
In addition to physical vehicle trials, members of the public can also register to take part in workshops to help envision the future of driverless vehicles. The workshops, which will take place from June 2016, seek to better understand people’s attitudes towards the use of automated vehicles and their operation in cities. Participants will be encouraged to discuss and debate the topic as well as participate in creative activities with designers and researchers from GATEway partner, the Royal College of Art.
Those with experience or knowledge of Greenwich are also encouraged to share their views on driverless vehicles via a web-based sentiment mapping tool. The site, developed and managed by GATEway partner Commonplace, provides members of the public with a chance to provide feedback on how driverless vehicles might impact life in and around Greenwich. Contributors are able to revisit the site as many times as they like, adding as many comments as they wish, whenever they choose throughout the duration of the project.
“The aim of the site is to give those familiar with the Greenwich area a chance to provide input on where and how driverless vehicles could work in and around Greenwich. It’s about putting local people right at the centre of exciting transformation and giving them a chance to influence decision making in this area,” commented Mike Saunders, Co-Founder of Commonplace.
The GATEway project is an £8m project jointly funded by Innovate UK and industry. Led by TRL, which has over 50 years’ of experience in vehicle automation, the project will investigate public perception, reaction and engagement with a range of different types of automated vehicles.
GATEway is one of three projects awarded by Innovate UK under its competition entitled ‘Introducing driverless cars to UK roads’. The other two projects are UK Autodrive in Coventry and Milton Keynes, and Venturer in Bristol.