Visitors to the Olympic Park can now ride London’s first autonomous hop-on passenger shuttle that is being billed as “the future of public transport”.
The free electric shuttle will run for 19 days this month and comes equipped with safety measures that park bosses say will stop people getting run over if they walk or cycle in front of it.
Unlike earlier trials of four-seater autonomous shuttles in Greenwich, trips around the Olympic Park do not have to be pre-booked. The Navya autonomous pod is limited to 5mph in the park but has a claimed top speed of nearly 30mph on the open road. It cost “in the hundreds of thousands of pounds” and was brought to London by Euston-based firm Keolis UK following trials on the Las Vegas Strip.
The pod navigates a pre-planned route using cameras and GPS, but will have a conductor initially in case of emergency. The 1km circuit starts at the Timber Lodge café near the Velodrome and serves four stops, taking about 12 minutes. Fifteen people can squeeze inside, nearly four times as many as in previous London trials.
Park bosses hope it will give visitors a novel way to enjoy the space.
Alistair Gordon, chief executive of Keolis UK, said: “It feels like gliding around the park. It starts, stops and the doors open — you wouldn’t know there was no driver in this vehicle.”
Anita O’Sullivan, 52, one of the first to try the pod, said: “It felt safe and I’d rather try it here than on the open road.”
This article was originally published on 11 September 2017 by the Evening Standard.