LUTZ Pathfinder: the first self-driving vehicle to hit the streets of the UK
UK’s first self-driving vehicle was unveiled this week; The LUTZ (Low-carbon Urban Transport Zone) Pathfinder was designed to travel short distances, carrying small objects and people who wouldn’t have access to a car otherwise, such as the young, elderly, and disabled people.
The autonomous car runs on an electric motor and can go for about six hours without refueling. The first prototype was shown to the public in Milton Keynes this week, before it started testing in public areas. It was developed by auto maker RDM in partnership with Oxford University’s Mobile Robotics Group (MRG).
The Pathfinder can reach a maximum speed of ۲۴ kilometers per hour and uses sensors, radar and video cameras to scan the streets in order to avoid people and objects. The vehicle will initially be directed to manual mode to map out and “recognize” its environment before going at it on its own – but with a person inside at all times ready to take control in the event of a technical malfunction.
The Pathfinder attracted interest from around the world, and a company in China has already expressed their interest in ordering 3000 units.
“This is a very exciting day for everybody involved in the LUTZ Pathfinder project, because it signals the completion of the manufacturing phase and the effective start of the autonomous technology trial,” said Transport Systems Catapult CEO Steve Yianni.
“When you consider that there wasn’t even a design in place for this vehicle less than 18 months ago, it has been a really quick turnaround to now have our first research vehicle ready to start work, and this has only been possible as a result of our successful collaboration with RDM, MRG and Milton Keynes Council.”
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