UK Autodrive partners RDM Group have carried out a successful public demonstration of their driverless ‘pod’ vehicle, during a celebration event to mark the 50th anniversary of Milton Keynes.
Up to 40 of the self-driving pods will be operating on the pavements of the Buckinghamshire town as part of the UK Autodrive project – making Monday’s event a fitting opportunity to showcase the technology to the general public for the first time.
Taking place in Milton Keynes’ main shopping centre, the demonstration was the first time that RDM had offered fully autonomous journeys with passengers on board. Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling was one of the first to take a trip in the pod, along with journalists from the BBC and ITV.
“This is a really good bit of innovation and I think it’s also the future of transport, because it’s going to create so many opportunities,” Mr Grayling said, after stepping out of the pod. “It can help with tackling congestion in our cities, and for some of the elderly who may be struggling to drive the way they used to, I think it’s also going to be a godsend.”
The pod also featured heavily in a live broadcast from the event for the ITV Anglia evening news programme, watched by more than a million viewers.
“This was a great opportunity to celebrate Milton Keynes’ big birthday with a difference and fitted perfectly with the town’s appetite to be at the forefront of driverless vehicle technology,” said RDM Sales and Marketing Director Miles Garner.
“We hope it provided a perfect birthday present for Milton Keynes and I just wonder what form of transport solution we will be trialling when it celebrates its 100th!”
The first batch of pods to be used on the pavements of Milton Keynes as part of the UK Autodrive project are due to begin operations later this year, with the full fleet of up to 40 vehicles set to be in service by summer 2018.