Self-driving buses will drive alongside other traffic for the first time in the UK as part of a trial in Cambridge. The three-wheel ‘autonomous passenger shuttles’ or ‘Auto-Shuttles’ were launched in May (2021) Thursday at the University of Cambridge.
The all-electric shuttles can carry ten passengers at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. They have a range of 100 miles.
Although the shuttles drive themselves, safety operators will be on hand to step in and take control at any point.
The shuttle has 10 seats.
The trial is part of a broader project by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) and Smart Cambridge to evaluate the potential for driverless tech in public transport.
It’s hoped the vehicles will pave the way for self-driving, on-demand public transport at large employment sites like hospitals.
Greater Cambridgeshire mayor Nik Johnson added: “By working collaboratively on the future of sustainable transport solutions for Cambridge, we not only help people get to and from work but also enable easier access to the cultural, leisure and family activities that we have missed in recent times. ”
The buses are powered by electricity.
The Department for Transport recently announced the use of limited self-driving capabilities will be allowed on motorways later this year. Officials said hands-free driving would be allowed in vehicles with special lane-keeping technology on motorways with slow traffic.
The DfT hopes the tech will make driving safer, with human error contributing to around 85% of accidents.
The ethical question that hasn’t been addressed is what sort of driver will we programme into our vehicles – the question posed is what if two children run in front of the car and the only way of avoiding them is to drive into an obstruction which threatens our life.
Straight on and injure the children (selfish) or into the wall and injure ourselves (ethical) – which software option will you click. We’d all like to be ethical – wouldn’t we – but what if we had our family in the car with us?
Well, it may be a few years until we have to make that decision.