New autonomous bus to take first passengers through London

5 Apr 2017

The GATEway Project autonomous bus. Image: GATEway Project

Those walking around Greenwich in London might want to keep an eye out for a new autonomous bus that will be travelling along the Thames.

As one of the world’s most iconic cities, London has its fair share of pollution.

Recent readings from sensors across the city have shown it to not only contain excessive amounts of CO2 from emissions, but enough to seriously affect the health of the city’s population.

A GATEway bus

Under the mayorship of Sadiq Khan, London is making greater efforts to drastically reduce the city’s pollution, starting with its transport system.

According to The Telegraph, members of the public can now hop on board London’s first autonomous bus, which travels along a 2km stretch of Greenwich, as part of the £8m GATEway Project.

The project will investigate the feasibility of people in smaller communities reaching major public transport hubs more easily.

Travelling at slightly more than 15kph, the shuttle bus will use its five cameras and three lasers to navigate its way along the Thames. One technician will join the passengers on board, to help in case anything goes awry.

As it travels, the bus will continuously look 100 metres ahead of it and detect any potential obstacles in its path.

Massive government push underway

“Existing transport hubs that are well used, like the Tube, the Thames Clippers and the Emirates Air Line cable car that we have here, [are] all situated at one end of the Greenwich peninsula – but there’s lots of businesses and residences that are much further away than that,” said the head researcher of the programme, Simon Tong.

“This is a great way to connect all of those people with those existing transport hubs.”

The GATEway Project expects to welcome the first paying passengers on board in 2019, with a possibility for expanding to other UK cities.

Meanwhile, the UK government is ramping up its efforts to usher in new autonomous vehicle technologies with a funding competition for researchers.

As part of the competition, up to four projects will battle it out for a share of a total £55m, developing an advanced, connected and autonomous vehicle testing infrastructure.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic