In the future, you won’t hail a cab or wait at a bus stop. You’ll order a personal pod from your smartphone.
Don’t believe it? Well, look at Milton Keynes, a sleepy city north of London. It plans to introduce personal transit vehicles starting with a trial in 2015. The pods will carry up to two passengers, plus baggage, from the train station to downtown offices and the shopping district. From 2017, if the pilot is successful, residents will pay little more than a bus fare ($3.20) to travel in automated luxury.
London’s Heathrow airport already uses 21 similar pods (pictured above) on a specially designed 2.5 mile track. Milton Keynes plans to introduce 100 vehicles and let them travel more independently, albeit in a designated lane with curbs. The trial will assess safety and how people (and animals) react to them. The pods travel at up to 12 miles per hour and will contain GPS, cameras, and sensors to ensure they don’t crash into anything.
Purpose-built in the 1960s, Milton Keynes has an unusual grid layout that makes it an ideal testing ground. Other British cities are looking at the project as they look to reduce congestion and pollution from traditional transport.