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Driverless technology to be tested in Greenwich

Area’s digital credentials driven home after it is chosen for £8m trial to pilot futuristic automated vehicles

Greenwich is establishing a growing reputation as one of the UK’s leading Smart Cities after it has been chosen to pilot ‘driverless’ vehicles in the UK.

The GATEway project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) is one of three projects awarded to test ‘driverless’ vehicles in UK urban locations. The £8 million project will see trials of different types of zero emission-automated vehicles within an innovative, technology-agnostic testing environment set in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

The project is being led by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) with key partners including the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the University of Greenwich as well as General Motors, the AA and RAC motoring associations.

Trials will aim to demonstrate the benefits of ‘driverless’ vehicles to the public and the car industry, in order to try and ensure that the technology is adopted by car manufacturers around the world. Safety will be of paramount importance during the trials, which will not take place on public roads.

The purpose of the project is multifaceted is to demonstrate automated transport systems through testing of fully automated passenger shuttle transport systems and autonomous valet parking for adapted cars. Feedback on their use will be gathered to establish which systems are used, trusted and accepted; how such systems can integrate into transport infrastructure; provide insight into the human factors issues that may be critical for the successful deployment this automated transport.

The automated vehicle technology to be tested will be provided by Phoenix Wings, a company established in Greenwich that has been involved in worldwide demonstrations of automated transport.

TRL Chief Executive, Rob Wallis said: “TRL has been innovating in the testing and development of automated vehicles for more than 50 years. The GATEway project will allow us to demonstrate new, innovative automated transport systems to drive safe, clean, efficient and flexible urban mobility.

“The combination of TRL’s independent expertise; robust, reliable testing protocols and driving simulation facilities alongside the diverse and high calibre qualities of our consortium means we can safely demonstrate automated vehicles to build acceptance and trust in this revolutionary technology.”

Councillor Denise Hyland, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, said: “This is a fantastic coup for the Royal Borough of Greenwich and demonstrates our growing reputation as one of the UK’s leading locations for innovation. The businesses we are attracting here are helping to create job opportunities for local residents and are driving forward the borough's economic growth.

“Greenwich is renowned for many things around the world. Our historic borough is the home of time and the Prime Meridian has aided navigation around the globe. It is therefore fitting that the Royal Borough of Greenwich should be selected as one of the locations for trialling this new ‘driverless’ technology – and is the only place in London which will see these vehicles being trialled. We really are seeing cutting edge development coming to the area, all of which is aimed at making people’s lives easier and safer in the future.”

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