CNN praise for pods

The Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) LUTZ Pathfinder programme has been singled out for praise by international media outlet CNN, with the project’s driverless pods being named in a “CNN 10 Better by Design” listing.

The project, which will see three autonomous pods being trialled on the pavements of Milton Keynes in 2015, was chosen by CNN as an example of how a “new breed of architects, designers, urban planners and other creative types are reimagining the shared spaces we encounter each day”.

The “Better by Design” list encompasses a wide range of functional design projects, from collaborative office spaces to holistic hospitals and passenger-friendly airports. The LUTZ Pathfinder pods are named in the transportation category as an example of the possible “future of urban transport”. It is the only UK-based project to have been included in the list.

The three autonomous pods being used for the trial are currently being manufactured by Coventry-based firm RDM Group, who were appointed by the TSC in May following an open OJEU tender process. Once built, the electric-powered two-seater pods will be equipped with sensor and navigation technology initially provided by the University of Oxford’s Mobile Robotics Group, but with an open platform capability that will allow other Autonomous Control System suppliers to use the pods for test purposes.

“The LUTZ Pathfinder programme has already been gaining lots of attention within the transport industry, but its inclusion in this wide-ranging CNN list – alongside schools, hospitals and restaurants – shows how much interest it’s attracting beyond the transport sector,” said TSC’s LUTZ Pathfinder programme director Neil Fulton.

“The idea of autonomous vehicles has clearly caught the public imagination and the Transport Systems Catapult will be working hard in the coming months and years to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of autonomous transport research and development.”

David Keene, Chairman of RDM, also expressed his delight at making the list.

“This honour has come completely out of the blue and we’re delighted that British innovation and design has been recognised on a global stage,” Keene said. “The programme … is the latest in a long line of niche vehicle builds and could open the door for a whole host of new opportunities for us as a business. It has already created four new jobs and the entire project will involve every member of our team working on it at some stage of the design and production.”

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