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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Tomorrow's cities: Towards the congestion-free city

Neil Fulton is debating what sort of persona to give the driverless cars that are soon to hit the not-so-mean streets of Milton Keynes.
"Are they going to be polite and let people pass in front of them?" he asks.
"There is a danger that if they are too polite, they wouldn't make any progression. But, on the other hand, we couldn't have aggressive vehicles that present safety issues so we might be better targeting assertive vehicles that provide some sort of audible or visual warning when they are going to do something."
Mr Fulton heads a project known formally as the Lutz (low carbon urban transport zone) Pathfinder programme, which will see three full-electric and driverless pods tested on the streets (or more accurately the pavements) of Milton Keynes by the end of 2015.
If successful, a bigger fleet will be ordered and 100 vehicles could go into public service by 2017. They will act as taxis around the city.

Transforming cities

For many, the mere idea of driverless cars is a leap of faith that they are not yet prepared to take, but the arguments for such transport are growing more persuasive by the day.
"You won't have to park your own car and you can sit back, read the newspaper or do emails while it is driving you," said Prof John Miles, a consultant from Arup who worked on the Milton Keynes project.
And it is not just our personal lives that are likely to change.
"It will completely transform transport and congestion in our cities. It used to be that cities were subjugated to the car but now we have the opportunity to do precisely the opposite - tailor our transport to fit our beautiful cities."
He envisages a future 20 or 30 years hence when autonomous city transport pods will co-exist with conventional cars.
"For longer journeys, we may still use our cars but in cities we will use transport systems which utilise driverless technology," he said.
Such vehicles are likely to be smaller than traditional cars, optimised to travel the most efficient routes and able to drive closer to each other, potentially freeing up much more road capacity.
"You couldn't trust a human being to drive a few feet in front of another car but you could trust an autonomous one," he said.
So why choose Milton Keynes as the UK's first test-bed for such technology?
"It happens to have a well-defined city centre with lots of pedestrian space and a progressive, forward-thinking council," explained Prof Miles.
Source By BBC.COM

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