Google’s self-driving car is a familiar sight online. The driverless automobile is a topic that has been on everyone’s lips. But are Google the only people interested in driverless technology? A few months back, a series of driverless car trials that the UK government was funding was coming to the fore. This effort was to push Britain’s Research & Development image. Those test have now been backed up with an official review that concluded automated vehicles are safe enough to be tested on public roads in the UK. There are a few provisos in place; there has to be a safety driver in the vehicle and the vehicle must comply with standard traffic laws. This news means that researchers in the UK that are interested in this new technology are all set to go.
Transport Systems Catapult and the RDM Group are some the development teams involved. They have designed and manufactured The Lutz pod . The Lutz is a small driverless pod with a lengthy, arching windscreen and chunky wheel caps. The pod isn’t really designed for the open road, but for pedestrianised spaces. The vehicle is striking in its appearance (Covered in Union Jack decals) and it is unusual in its design. The designers are hoping that it will make it just as memorable as Google’s entry into the market.
The Lutz pod can seat two people and have a range of around for 40 miles. This equates to approximately six hours on a single charge. The Lutz pod has a top speed of 15mph,which isn’t quick by any stretch of the imagination, but it should be ok for assisting the elderly, commuters and shoppers to complete short journeys.
Onboard the Lutz pod there is a large amount of hardware. There are twin cameras and LIDAR sensors that are fitted on the front, coupled with a further two cameras and a single LIDAR on the back. There is also another two cameras on either side of the vehicle. All these combined will give the vehicle a detailed 360-degree picture of its surroundings.
A prototype of the Lutz pod was shown off in London the other day, but the creators say the first production models will not be completed until June 2015. When the Lutz pods are ready, the team will put them on trial in Milton Keynes. This project will gain the inventors and others involved two records; the UK’s first driverless pod and the first autonomous vehicle to be used in a UK public area.
The UK government will be trying to assist researchers and manufacturers with updated guidance in the field of autonomous transport. The government is currently working on a Code of Practice for road testing, and the Department for Transport have said they are planning to amend domestic laws by 2017 to accommodate the new technology.
[Image via YouTube]