Pedestrians are participating in the tests taking place in Milton Keynes, at the initiative of LUTSZ Pathfinder project. The two-seat « autonomous » vehicles in theory only, are occupied by a person trained to keep an eye on the road.
First, the members of the project wanted to know if Milton Keynes suited or if a change of infrastructure was necessary to accommodate the driverless vehicle. The first tests had first used drivers, but the most recent test near London included pedestrians who volunteer to test the vehicle on a 1 km zone. The passengers can navigate thanks to an integrated software dubbed Selenium (designed by an affiliated company to Oxford university) with a top speed set at 24 km/h, but average driving speed lower.
The project started two years ago with the objective of creating technology, which enables users to drive the vehicle in urban areas. It’s the first time the vehicle has been tested in public in the UK.
For months now, the tests have allowed to gather map data, keeping in mind that LUTSZ Pathfinder in large part designed the test in Milton Keynes to measure the public reactions.
Also, local authorities are included in the project since they’re consider that it’s a solution to congestion, pollution, parking problems as well as people with reduced mobility who want to be less dependent in their daily lives.
In Europe, current legislation doesn’t give the right to use driverless car on public roads but only on private routes. Without being too optimistic, if projects like this one multiply in European cities, laws could change much faster than expected.