Driving Autonomy in Driverless Pods

The Mobile Robotics Group (MRG) at the Department of Engineering Science has been at the forefront of autonomous vehicle research in the UK for over a decade and technology developed by MRG is at the heart of these trials.

Driving Autonomy in Driverless PodsAn electric-powered two-seater pod.

The LUTZ project, carried out on behalf of the UK Automotive Council and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and sitting within the wider LUTZ (Low-carbon Urban Transport Zone) programme, will see autonomy technology developed in the department, drive 3 two-person pods around pedestrianised areas in Milton Keynes. The design of the pods was showcased this week as part of the release of its review into driverless cars.

Dovetailing with the LUTZ project is the UK Driverless Cars Challenge, which will see the Department work with the UK Autodrive Consortium to sport a further 40 Pods driving around Milton Keynes.

The electric-powered two-seater pods are driven by autonomy technology provided by MRG and the newly formed spin-out company Oxbotica. Currently the autonomy system is being taught the characteristics of Milton Keynes and Central Oxford – you might well see a pod being taken for a driving lesson over the coming months. Videos of this process can be seen here.

A joint statement from Professor Paul Newman and Professor Ingmar Posner who head up the Group, says: “Its fabulous to get the opportunity to deploy our autonomy portfolio on projects like this. It puts us in a place where we have to make the whole system work coherently. It makes us address thorny and very obstinate robotics problems, which only occur in field deployments. We are in a superb position to do this now with a new building, excellent core Research Councils UK support, and a remarkable and energetic team. We are quite excited about what the next six months will bring”.