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Driverless vehicles on the way?

The majority of manufacturers have been searching for that something different in the way of self driving cars/pods or the alternative fuel source. Manufacturers such as Toyota and Peugeot and Citroen have announced details of a new project that will try and power vehicles through the form of air.


One of the collaborators on the project, Jon Beasley the programme director from the Transport Systems Catapult, explained that, “We will start them initially actually with driving, so people will be driving them to start with so that people can get used to actually seeing them on the particular pathways and they can get used to interacting with them and not being frightened by them and have confidence that they are actually safe to work with.”


Information on the 'pods'.

For years Google and car-makers such as Audi AG, BMW AG, Ford Motor Company and Volvo have been working on autonomous car technology. Several US states have already passed laws that allow these vehicles on public highways.


Early collaborators on the project are engineering consultancy firm Arup, Transport Systems Catapult, The Automotive Council along with Cambridge and Oxford Universities.

Earlier this year Oxford University scientists unveiled their latest prototype of a car that "drives itself" with the help of a tablet computer. Acting like a plane on auto-pilot, it is designed to take over from humans in slow-moving heavy traffic or on a familiar route, such as a school run. It is activated using an iPad on the dashboard - by tapping on a prompt, the driver can make the car's on-board computer take the wheel.

Robotcar, which is being developed by Oxford University and Nissan at Begbroke Science Park in Oxfordshire, uses a combination of external sensors and computer power to calculate the correct direction and speed.


Funding for the 'pods'.

Business secretary, Vince Cable has announced a £75million fund to speed up the development of green engine technologies. To apply for a share of the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) pilot project budget, bidding groups must include a vehicle manufacturer, an SME and a supply chain company. One beneficiary is a £1.5m scheme to test driverless cars in a pedestrianised area for the first time. The 'pods' will carry two people and run on designated pathways in Milton Keynes city centre.


Vince Cable commented that, “By 2050, very few - if any - new cars will be powered solely by internal combustion engines, so it is important that the UK car industry is at the cutting edge of low carbon technologies.”


The planned course is that by 2015, the first group of 20 'pods' will be trialled on dedicated lanes, separate from pedestrian, between Milton Keynes rail station and the city centre and by mid 2017, one hundred fully autonomous 'pods' could be running on pathways alongside people.

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