The M1 vehicles will be trialling technologies that offer ever-increasing levels of automation and driver assistance with the aim of reaching fully autonomous operation in some controlled circumstances. Some of the cars in the road-based trials will be used to demonstrate car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications systems, rather than autonomous systems.
The pavement-based pods are designed to operate completely autonomously. By the end of the programme the pods will be used to demonstrate a small-scale public transport system in Milton Keynes. Earlier stages of the programme will be used to trial and demonstrate capabilities that will be required to deliver this service.
In the three-year timescale of UK Autodrive, the road-based passenger cars will continue to contain an occupant who can be responsible for the vehicle’s safe operation. Towards the end of the programme, we envisage that the pod vehicles will be able to travel around without occupants. A safety controller will continue to monitor the pods remotely.