Transport Systems Catapult, a British innovation agency, unveiled an electric self-driving vehicle that will begin transporting people around Milton Keynes, a town 50 miles outside London. The car has a top speed of 15 mph and will drive on sidewalks instead of roads. It’s expected to be used to ferry visitors from the train station to the heart of downtown later this year.
The vehicle is small — just over 4 1/2 feet long — with room for two passengers. So fitting luggage will be tough. Passengers enter their destination on an iPad and then are on their way. While it’s being hyped as a self-driving car, it was built with a steering wheel, gas pedal and brake. Jez Coates, chief engineer at Transport Systems Catapult says that eventually the steering wheel will be phased out.
The car — a Lutz Pathfinder made by the British company RDM Group — is equipped with six cameras, three LIDAR sensors and two radars to help it navigate safely. Its battery range is six hours. Testing will start with just a few vehicles, but the fleet should eventually grow to around 40 vehicles, according to Transport Systems Catapult. It’s unclear how much it cost to manufacture the Lutz Pathfinder.