Before autonomous cars arrive, buses without drivers begin to emerge in some regions of the world with good results. From Holland with WePod, Greece and Spain with CityMobil, to Las Vegas with Navya, autonomous buses are gaining ground and now it is London's turn.
The UK Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) is announcing the entry into operation of 'Harry', which belongs to the GATEway Project and consists of a small autonomous bus or pod that has been in tests since May 2016. Today it finally seems to be ready to offer service to passengers under real conditions.
A kind of open beta of three weeks
It was expected that 'Harry', who has been baptized as a tribute to the watchmaker John Harrison, started this public tests last Christmas, but due to some delays had to be until today the start of operations.
Harry will be running for free in the London suburb of Greenwich, near the O2 Arena, where he will offer services within a pre-established route of almost four kilometers. The service will be in a kind of open beta of three weeks, where it is expected to transport more than 100 people, which will serve to know the response of passengers to this new technology.
This pod will have capacity for four people and during its operation will have an operator that will be available for any doubt or emergency. Harry will move at a speed of 16 km / h , and to perform his daily work will rely on five cameras and three LIDAR sensors to help map the entire exterior and detect possible obstacles.
Part of the purpose of this commissioning is also to collect data about its operation, where it will be able to provide four terabytes every eight hours, which will serve to adjust its operation towards an official entrance as a means of transport.
If these tests prove successful, TRL predicts that by 2019 we could see the first fleet of self-contained buses in Greenwich, with a view to a route expansion in 2020.