Next time you’re in London, you might just see one of these strange little pods go whizzing by on the road — no driver required.
Engadget reports the GATEway project plans to launch driverless vehicles onto the streets around the Royal Observatory in Greenwich (you know, the site of the big battle in Thor: The Dark World?), which will make use of repurposed Ultra Pods. The pods are currently in use at Heathrow Airport, though in that setting they’re locked into predetermined tracks. The GATEway project plans to set them free with AI behind the wheel.
The goal is to see how the pods can function in real-life traffic situations and also gauge how the public reacts to these adorable little mini-taxis buzzing around the streets. The pods max out at around 25 miles (aka 40 kilometers) per hour and should be capable of carrying six passengers at once to a variety of destinations.
The team is working with a wide array of experts to ensure the pods are safe for street travel. The list of partners includes Westfield Sportscars to help integrate the tech, robotics researchers Oxbotica to focus on the AI components that need to work autonomously and Heathrow Enterprises, the company that manages the pods already in use at the airport.
Now, the big question — do you think this tech can scale out to other big cities? Would you hop into a driverless pod to reach your destination?