Futuristic autonomous driving modules arrive at Heaton Park


Autonomous futuristic pods have arrived at Heaton Park.

Heated pods can take visitors on a set route around the park, from Heaton Hall and along the lake.

Without a driver on board, they have the technology to stop as soon as something gets in their way.

Two of the pods – meaning “pods on demand” – will run next week as part of a trial to gauge public reaction to them.

New sensor technologies mean they can facilitate “platooning” – allowing vehicles to follow each other in a controlled formation, carrying up to four passengers each.

Read more: Lightopia A Christmas Fantasy opens at Heaton Park – ticket prices, times and everything you need to know

Westfield Technology Group, the company behind what is called Project Synergy, hopes a positive response “provides a compelling case” for organizations such as Manchester City Council to consider making it a permanent fixture. .

It follows the world’s first trial of autonomous vehicles in the Lake District earlier this year and the project was partially funded by Innovate UK and the Center for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

Its partners include Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester, Cisco, Stockport Council, Manchester Metropolitan University and Harper Adams University.

It is estimated that a previous test at Heathrow Airport saved an average of 50,000 tonnes of carbon per year by reducing around 20,000 bus trips over a 12-month period.

Harry Woolvine, Business Development Manager at Westfield Technology Group, said: “The collaborative nature of this new project only underscores the local enthusiasm for these new sustainable technologies in the Manchester area.

“The trial coincides with the Lightopia display throughout the park, providing an even more unique opportunity to view this incredible illuminated display while learning about these revolutionary new technologies.

“We look forward to showing this revolutionary technology to visitors to Heaton Park next week. “

Visitors will be able to jump inside the pods and “experience the beauty of the park while seated in a safe, durable and perhaps most importantly, heated cabin.”



Pods are being tested at Heaton Park, which currently hosts the Lightopia Lantern Festival

Would you use any of the pods? Do you think they should be available elsewhere? Let us know your opinions in the comments here.

Covid-compatible with masks and antibacterial spray provided, they are ideal for anyone who may have difficulty traveling long distances and families may take strollers or pets on board. They can travel about 100 km, or 62 miles, before the battery runs out.

Westfield’s “smart perception solution” technology uses cutting-edge LIDAR and radar technologies as well as artificial intelligence camera systems that allow pods to observe the environment within a radius of 100 meters.

The GPS tracks the route and the idea is for travelers to use an app, or the screen inside the pod, to choose their stop.

The pods will operate at Heaton Park between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. from Monday December 6 to Friday December 10.


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