The car is being adapted from the shuttle pods used to transport passengers at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5. The difference is that the already existing vehicles can run in their dedicated tracks. The GATEway project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) is led by UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), who said they plan to wait for public approval. “The project has been jointly funded by Innovate UK and the industry, and the trial aims to assess the public’s willingness to use autonomous vehicles in built-up areas,” TRL said.
According to the Daily Mail, the Sportcars Westfield car factory will be responsible for the design and testing, Heathrow Enterprises will take care of software engineering and Oxford University robotics lab spin-off Oxbotica will provide maps and safety sensors. The head of Westfield Sportscars, Julian Turner, said the company is eager to test the new equipment, “We’re really pleased to be a part of the Gateway consortium and are looking forward to bringing our innovative, lightweight, technology to a well-known and tried and tested platform.”
Although the cars are to be tested without the help of a driver, an operator will sit in the car in case of an emergency. Professor Nick Reed, academy director at TRL and technical director for Gateway, said: ‘If the trials prove successful, we expect these iconic vehicles to become a familiar sight in many cities around the world.’