Driverless cars on public roads will soon become reality in Milton Keynes, UK. The town, which lies north of London, is preparing to replace the existing old and noisy buses with a fleet of 100 ULTra PRT transport pods. Each pod has capacity to carry 2 passengers along with their baggage and travels at a speed of 12 miles per hour. As per the initial plan, pods will carry passengers between downtown area, train station and business district. Fares will be £2 per trip and pedestrians will have to use a smartphone app to hail a pod.
The pods are driven by computers but can be controlled by passengers in case of any problem. A similar system is already in place at Heathrow airport in London and is being used for shuttling passengers from terminal to terminal. The system is operational since 2011 and there have been no major incidents so far.
With an estimated budget of £65 million, the pilot project would require laying down special roadway and charging stations for the pods. The special roadway would contain safety bumpers to separate the pods from regular traffic and charging stations would be set up en route. The current plan is to have the system up and running by 2015 and fully operational by 2017.
If everything goes well and the project succeeds, the idea is to have pods no longer run on restricted lanes, paving the way for driverless public transport systems and personal vehicles.