SCI-FI style driverless cars are hitting the streets of one UK town – as footballers are given an app to order a vehicle.
A trial for the Fetch car system, which allows locals to book rides through their phones, is set to begin in Milton Keynes this month.
MK Dons footballers are trialling new driverless cars – as a transport chief says the vehicles will be as normal as taxis within two years[/caption]
The vehicles are remotely controlled and can be booked via an app[/caption]
Bizarrely, the cars are remotely controlled by operators who deliver them to the customer.
MK Dons players are currently the only ones allowed to book a trip.
And the sportsmen may be relieved to know a safety driver will be in every vehicle during the initial trial.
Perhaps the most desirable feature of the cars is that customers will never have to find a parking spot again.
Once the vehicle arrives at its destination, the rider simply hops out and allows the app to take control of the car.
Koosha Kaveh, the chief executive of Imperium Drive – the company behind the trials – told the BBC: “It’s driverless but not autonomous.
“There’s still a human involved, but they’ll be sitting in a control centre controlling the vehicle in the same way you would control a drone.”
And he said he hopes remote driving will one day be the safest way to travel by car.
“We’re working towards making remote driving safer than normal driving,” he said.
“In normal driving you still have blind spots around you that cause accidents.
“You also can’t anticipate what’s coming in terms of traffic, pedestrians, cyclists.”
The vehicles in the trial use computer image algorithms that detect anything near the car.
The operator will control the vehicle in the same way you’d control a drone
“Our goal is to make remote driving safer than actual driving,” he said.
Preliminary trials of the cars have been going on for some time on private land and car parks around Milton Keynes stadium, the home of MK Dons.
The performance director for the club, Simon Crampton, said he believes the vehicles will help players stay well during the pandemic.
“The biggest thing at the moment is Covid, because we can’t start putting players together in cars, particularly with the Omicron variant being very contagious,” he said.
“Our players and staff can now order a vehicle through the app that will arrive at the front of the stadium to take them to training.”
If the trial goes well, driverless cars will soon be available to commuters heading home from the train station.
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And amazingly, the town’s head of transport innovation said they’ll be as normal as taxis within the next two years.
“We’ve been working at this for a number of years. We want people to move away from single occupancy cars,” Brian Matthews said.
“We’re looking a range of solutions not just these driverless cars, but also larger shuttles using similar technology and four-seater pods that are completely autonomous.”
If the trial goes well, the vehicles will be rolled out at the train station to ferry commuters home[/caption]