Driverless Technology: What is the future for our ever-growing humanless society?

The idea of our society becoming less reliant on people to complete everyday tasks is becoming a likely concept. We live in an age that often requires a matter of urgency and users relish being able to complete tasks quickly and efficiently. Many users find that incorporating these needs with autonomous technology helps them complete the task quicker and in a more time efficient manner.

Automated gates are an example of incorporating the matter of urgency and time efficiency, with autonomous technology. Rather than manually having to open gates to allow vehicles to pass through, which involves having to leave your vehicle, automated gates serves the purpose of allowing a user to pass through without the need to leave the vehicle.


The driverless pod scheme

Autonomous technology has recently stepped up a gear with a driverless pod scheme, which was unveiled in London last month. Here at Portcullis, we were involved in the project and commissioned the security gates that protected the pods.

The pods are part of the GATEway project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment), an £8bn research project led by Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) which aims to gather an understanding and overcome the technical, legal and societal challenges of implementing automated vehicles in an urban environment.

During the three week trial last month, the autonomous pods carried four people each and had no steering wheels or pedals, so completely reliant on technology to get people from the starting destination to the final destination. The pods offered a seamless journey for passengers that spanned across the Greenwich Peninsula and residential streets and areas close to the O2 arena.

This not the first time that similar pods have been used before. Driverless pods have been used in Heathrow airport to transport passengers around Terminal 5 for the last five years. They have proved popular amongst passengers and so far have carried 1.5 million passengers and travelled 1.8 million miles over the last five years.


The future for driverless technology

Following on from the success of the Heathrow driverless pods, the UK government have announced plans to have autonomous cars travelling from London to Oxford in 2019. The technology that was so alien to us 10 years ago is becoming something that could be part of our daily routine. In the US, taxi firm Uber have stepped out with self-driving taxis in a handful of states and they have been coping well navigating through the streets of states such as Texas, Pittsburgh and California. If the success continues, Uber could bring the scheme over to the UK.

It is difficult to forecast how our society will react to self-driving cars on a more wider scale. While a recent survey found that 77% of people in the UK were “reluctant” to support the growing interest in driverless cars, the popularity of the Heathrow pods could change people’s perceptions of driverless technology, and we could be seeing self-driving cars on our roads sooner than anticipated. 

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