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Public research shaping the future of driverless vehicles

By | News

Today the GATEway Project begins research into public acceptance of, and attitudes towards, driverless vehicles. The trials, which will see an autonomous vehicle driving in a complex urban environment, is not about robotising existing forms of transport, such as the car, but is examining ways to optimise mobility for the urban environment using new modes of transport enabled by automation.

In the latest phase of the GATEway Project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) a prototype shuttle will begin driverless navigation of a 2km route around the Greenwich Peninsula, using advanced sensors and state-of-the-art autonomy software to detect and avoid obstacles whilst carrying members of the public participating in the research study.

The GATEway Project is a world-leading research programme, led by TRL and funded by government and industry. It aims to demonstrate the use of automated vehicles for ‘last mile’ mobility, seamlessly connecting existing transport hubs with residential and commercial areas using a zero emission, low noise transport system. Research findings from the project will guide the wider roll out of automated vehicle technology in all forms of surface transport, including cars, lorries and buses.

Uniquely, the focus of the study is not the technology but how it functions alongside people in a natural environment. This first trial will explore people’s pre-conceptions of driverless vehicles and barriers to acceptance through detailed interviews with participants before and after they ride in the shuttle.

Residents and visitors to the Peninsula are invited to leave feedback via an interactive map.

The project will not only see London and the UK emerge as a world leader in automated technology, but provide valuable sociological insight into what is expected to be the most profound change in mobility since the invention of the internal combustion engine.

The prototype shuttle, dubbed ‘Harry’ (in honour of navigation visionary John Harrison*), uses a state-of-the-art autonomy software system, called Selenium, which enables realtime, robust navigation, planning, and perception in dynamic environments.

Professor Nick Reed, Academy Director at TRL commented: “This research is another milestone in the UK’s journey towards driverless vehicles and a vital step towards delivering safer, cleaner and more effective transport in our cities.

“It is critical that the public are fully involved as these technologies become a reality. The GATEway Project is enabling us to discover how potential users of automated vehicles respond to them so that the anticipated benefits to mobility can be maximised. We see automated vehicles as a practical solution to delivering safe, clean, accessible and affordable last-mile mobility. I’m hugely proud of the work that has been undertaken in preparing for these tests and excited to move on to public testing.”

Developed by British companies Westfield Sportscars, Heathrow Enterprises and Oxbotica**, the shuttle has no steering wheel or typical driver controls, ‘Harry’ is the UK’s first fully automated shuttle vehicle. Over an eight-hour period of operation, a single GATEway shuttle will collect a massive four terabytes of data – equivalent to 2,000 hours of film or 1.2 million photographs.

To navigate this complex real-world environment, the shuttle will use Oxbotica’s Selenium autonomy software, which is a vehicle-agnostic, sensor-agnostic autonomy solution for a wide range of platforms (e.g., low-speed shuttles to high-speed road vehicles). The system uses onboard sensors, such as cameras and lasers, to locate itself in its map, perceive and track dynamic obstacles around it, and plan a safe obstacle-free trajectory to the goal. It does this without any reliance on GPS. High data-rate 3D laser range finders are used for obstacle detection and tracking, and an additional safety curtain is used for redundancy in order to maximise safety.

Whilst the GATEway vehicle is designed to operate without a human driver, a safety steward will remain on-board at all times, complying with the UK’s code of practice on automated vehicle testing.

The GATEway Project builds on more than fifty years of research into automated vehicles by TRL and operates within the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab at Greenwich. Fast emerging as a world-class test bed and real-world environment for the development and validation of new mobility solutions enabled by connected and automated vehicle technology, the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab in Greenwich is part of a long-term commitment led by TRL in partnership with Royal Borough of Greenwich to attract inward investment and create a compelling route to market for innovators.

The shuttle trial is one of a number of trials taking place as part of the GATEway Project to help understand the use, perception and acceptance of automated vehicles in the UK. Others trials include automated urban deliveries, remote teleoperation demonstrations, exploring how automated vehicle systems work for people with additional travel needs, and high-fidelity simulator tests to investigate how drivers of regular vehicles respond and adapt their behaviour to the presence of automated vehicles on the roads.

GATEway is one of three projects awarded by Innovate UK under its competition entitled ‘Introducing driverless cars to UK roads’. The other two projects are UK Autodrive in Coventry and Milton Keynes, and Venturer in Bristol.

*The prototype shuttle is known as ‘Harry’. It was named in honour of John Harrison – an engineer who developed timepieces that enabled accurate navigation at sea and for which Greenwich was the reference point. More information here.

**The GATEway shuttle vehicle has been developed by Westfield Sportscars, Heathrow Enterprises and Oxbotica and is modelled on the Heathrow PODs. Westfield is the vehicle integrator and manufacturer of the vehicles. Heathrow Enterprises is responsible for vehicle software engineering and Oxbotica is responsible for the autonomy software which enables the safe operation of the vehicles.

Majority of human drivers don’t bully autonomous vehicles

By | News

Human drivers do not yet know enough about autonomous vehicles to take advantage of them, according to new research from TRL, the global centre of innovation in transport and mobility.

The study, conducted by TRL as part of the GATEway driverless car project in Greenwich, investigated how human drivers might adapt their behaviour in the presence of autonomous vehicles. Results indicated that the majority of drivers did not change their driving behaviour and continued to make decisions about overtaking or pulling out into traffic based on gap size assessments and judgements of safety.

Commenting on the results, Professor Nick Reed, Academy Director, TRL explains: “What we have found suggests that people find it hard to recognise automated vehicles and/or don’t yet understand how automated vehicles behave. In terms of their driving behaviour, they therefore treat them as they would any other vehicle. It is possible that this could change as exposure to autonomous vehicles increases but more evidence is needed to substantiate this.”

The trial, which took place in TRL’s DigiCarⁱ driving simulator, sought to explore how human drivers will respond to automated vehicles in an urban environment. Participants completed a series of short simulator driving scenarios within a 3D virtual replica of the Greenwich Peninsula, developed by modelling and simulation specialists, Agility3ⁱⁱ. These scenarios included overtaking and junction driving tasks, with the recognisability and proportion of automated vehicles in traffic varied to represent the transitional phase between a fully and partially automated vehicle fleet.

Overall findings suggest driver behaviour would remain largely unchanged in the presence of autonomous vehicles, however tentative evidence was found that some drivers may adapt their driving behaviour as autonomous vehicles become more prevalent. For example, drivers were found to pull into smaller gaps between vehicles at junctions when there are more automated vehicles in the traffic, but drivers did not necessarily intercept automated vehicles more readily than human driven vehicles.

Professor Reed continues: “A small number of participants did pull out into smaller gaps when there were more automated vehicles in the traffic. This could be due to an increase in confidence about pulling out in front of an automated vehicle, with some participants citing this as a reason. We would be interested in understanding why these drivers took this approach and how these behaviours evolve over time.”

“As automation becomes more prominent in vehicles, we are likely to see a mixed fleet of non-automated, partially automated, highly automated and (eventually) fully automated vehicles for many years to come. Through that transition period, human drivers and other road users will be encountering autonomous vehicles in increasing numbers. The way in which human driven and automated vehicles interact will have major impacts on traffic flow dynamics and road safety. Understanding how these vehicles will coexist as we move through this transition phase will be critical for infrastructure planning and road safety,” concludes Professor Reed.

This exploratory study was conducted as part of the GATEway project, a world-leading two-year research programme, led by TRL and jointly funded by government and industry. It is one of a number of trials taking place as part of the project, with others including trials of automated passenger shuttles and automated urban deliveries which are set to take place in the UK Smart Mobility Lab in the Royal Borough of Greenwich later this year. Further details can be found at

The full report can be downloaded here.


Empowering people through technology

By | Blog

We believe that the Internet of Things is fundamentally going to change the way we live, work and play and automated vehicles will significantly disrupt and change the way we interact and engage with our transport systems. Cars are becoming computers on wheels and like any mobile computing device we need to make sure we transmit data in the most efficient and secure manner. Although having all vehicles fully automated is still some time away, we are seeing an ever increasing requirement for cameras and sensors within vehicles to be connected and we believe that communications and connectivity is critical to the success of autonomous vehicles.

Within the GATEway project we are looking at the role teleoperation will provide to improve mobility through connected transportation, empowering people to stay independent. Using a customised pre-configured version of the O2 CWAN digital IoT solution, we have tested an enterprise grade managed solution for remotely operating and recovering a Toyota Prius, an autonomous vehicle, safely and securely to demonstrate basic autonomy. As part of the design the system includes end-to-end encryption.

Through the GATEway project we want to understand how, through the right communication, we can improve the safety, passenger experience and engagement with these vehicles.

If we go further and consider an application on a smart phone instructing the car to self-park or to return to a given location, this too will depend on connectivity. This opens the door to a whole range of communications opportunities, but also creates disruptive business models and challenges that we need to better understand.

Ultimately it’s about the implications of the technology on society. We want to understand how automated vehicles will fit into our future urban mobility needs and the barriers that need to be overcome before these vehicles can become a reality on our roads. Also, when we can connect automated vehicles into a wider smart city environment, we can bring benefits of the efficiency, safety and reliability into our wider transport systems

It’s exciting for us as a technology company and we’re delighted to be part of the future and support UK Plc. Read more about our teleoperation work here.

Vinnett Taylor,

Head of IOT Specialists, O2

GATEway demonstrates how teleoperation and autonomy can improve mobility for disabled drivers

By | News

The UK’s first demonstration of a teleoperated autonomous vehicle service for people with reduced mobility has been successfully completed as part of the GATEway project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment), led by TRL.

Taking place at the InterContinental Hotel in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and completed using an autonomous-enabled Toyota Prius, the demonstration marked the end of a fortnight of testing in which GATEway partners Gobotix and O2 were able to successfully demonstrate remote operation of an unmanned vehicle.

The demonstration aimed to show how near-market technology could benefit disabled and older drivers with limited mobility.  Using proof of concept technology developed by Gobotix, a wheelchair user drove himself to his final destination before disembarking. The driver then enlisted the support of a remote operator to park his vehicle using 3G and 4G cellular technology from telecommunications provider, O2. For specific situations when cellular coverage would not be possible, e.g. underground car park, the user can also control the vehicle using an app on their own tablet device to manoeuvre or park it from a short distance using in-car Wi-Fi.

Automated vehicle technology has the potential to enhance mobility for people with additional travel needs, including those who are older or have disabilities.  But with  fully automated, all-weather vehicles not expected to operate on UK roads for a number of years, Gobotix is focusing on what can be done now to drive more immediate benefits.

“Everybody is waiting for the arrival of fully automated vehicles, but there’s a lot that vehicle manufacturers can be doing already with existing technology to help improve accessibility and mobility for older and disabled drivers, ” said Dr Ben Davis, Technical Director, Gobotix.

“Many modern cars can be adapted so that they are driveable by a remote pilot and what we’ve demonstrated as part of GATEway is proof of that.  By offering a remote teleoperation service, we can remove common concerns around boarding and alighting. It’s about empowering those with reduced mobility to retain independence through the use of technology. ”

Toby Veall, Disability Consultant and full time wheelchair user following a spinal cord injury, who took part in the demonstration commented: “It’s very difficult for able-bodied people to fully understand the challenges facing disabled drivers. One of the main problems is finding suitable parking, which ideally is a disabled space but is not always possible.

“Other challenges include cars parking too close preventing access to the driver’s door, uneven surfaces like gravel or grass and hazards such as steep curbs, slopes and cambers. The use of a simple app to remotely park the car would be warmly welcomed by myself and many others with mobility problems and help to remove parking anxieties and improve independence.”

The technology is the product of more than two years’ work from experts at Gobotix and works on many vehicles which have increasingly common electronic controls and sensors. Using forward facing sensors, the software interprets images and communicates with the vehicle’s systems to enable remote operation by a computer or smartphone. Connectivity is provided by a machine-to-machine sim that is able to tap into any network and works on 3G and 4G, while the video feed on the vehicle is used to facilitate obstacle detection and adjust speed accordingly.

The system is the first of its kind solution for remote teleoperation and, unlike most autonomous technologies, will enable cars to be driven semi-autonomously in areas that have not been mapped.

It also enables remote recovery of fully automated vehicles should something go wrong, such as software faults or sensor breakdowns. Using the technology a human operator can intervene to remotely navigate vehicles back to a safe location or state of operation.

Dr Davis concludes:  “In the future, it is anticipated that the technology could be applied to fleets of fully automated vehicles, which could be controlled and operated from a remote control centre when necessary. With further investment, it might also prove useful for local authorities or transport planners looking to improve utilisation and efficiency of car parking in cities. We could make buildings and cities even more accessible beyond just having dedicated disabled spaces.”

Commenting on the success of the pilot, Billy D’Arcy Managing Director, Enterprise & Public Sector Business O2 said: “O2 continues to focus on putting customer experience and satisfaction at the heart of everything we do when offering mobile products and services, all to help make customers’ lives easier. The GATEway project is a perfect example of this and we’re pleased to be supporting it by providing connectivity and counsel for the pilot. What we’ve shown at Greenwich is how connecting key services via the O2 network and an app on mobile devices, can offer huge mobility benefits to many.”

The demonstration is one of a number of trials taking place in the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab as part of the GATEway project. Other trials include automated passenger shuttles, automated urban deliveries and  high-fidelity simulator tests to investigate how drivers of regular vehicles respond and adapt their behaviour to the presence of automated vehicles on the roads.

The GATEway project is a world-leading two-year research programme, led by TRL and jointly funded by government and industry. It builds on fifty years of research into automated vehicles by TRL and aims to investigate the use, perception and acceptance of automated vehicles for ‘last mile’ mobility.



Notes to editors

The autonomous system in the Toyota Prius has been developed by Gobotix as a prototype platform for research and development and can operate in both manual and autonomous mode.

Project update: December 2016

By | Blog

As 2016 draws to a close, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide an update on where we are with the GATEway project.

It has been a busy final few months of the year for the project, which aims to understand and overcome the technical, legal and societal challenges of implementing automated vehicles in an urban environment. Whilst the project largely revolves around the public trials of automated vehicles in Greenwich, we must not forget this is a research project focused not on developing vehicles, but the societal implications of this new technology.

Over the past few months we completed the first phase of the public engagement element of this research, looking at people’s hopes, fears and expectations of driverless vehicles. We invited people from a variety of backgrounds to engage in discussions and help us better understand public attitudes towards this next generation of vehicles. In total, we hosted eight workshops with over a hundred participants, producing thousands of hopes and fears about the future and more than 30 new driverless vehicle concepts. Insight in to some of the top level findings can be found here and a full report will be released once all phases have been completed.

Part of this package of work also included gathering feedback on the idea of driverless vehicles in Greenwich from those that live, work and visit the area. We have had over 500 contributions so far, with 78% of people viewing automated vehicles as a very positive opportunity for Greenwich. If you wish to add your comments, then you can do so here.

We also completed our teleoperation demonstrations, as well as simulator trials to investigate how drivers of regular cars respond and adapt their behaviour in the presence of automated vehicles.  The team of experts at TRL are now working their way through the data collected to analyse the results which will be disseminated accordingly in the New Year.

Those in Greenwich may also have noticed the inclusion of some unfamiliar road markings around the Greenwich Peninsula.  The markings, which will remain in place until the end of the project, were added in preparation of the arrival of ‘Harry’ – our prototype automated vehicle. Harry arrived in Greenwich in November 2016 to begin a final period of onsite validation and testing ahead of public trials. You may have already spotted him running around autonomously in Greenwich; this is part of our final regime of safety evaluation and public trials will only commence once this has been completed. We’ll be providing more information in due course.

Our progress in Greenwich didn’t go unnoticed by government and industry. The team at the Royal College of Art picked up an award for the quality and significance of their GATEway paper submitted to the Universal Design Conference 2016 held in Nagoya Japan. And in November, I gave evidence on behalf of the GATEway Project in the House of Lords inquiry into driverless vehicles, which can be viewed online here. Following the evidence session, members of the Committee also visited the project in Greenwich to see the progress we have made and engaged with a number of different elements of the project, including TRL’s portable driving simulator, MiniDigiSim, Oxbotica’s Geni vehicle and ‘Harry’. A positive and successful end to an exciting year.

Thank you to everyone that has taken part in any of our research activities to-date and for those that are eagerly waiting for the start of the public trials, we thank you for your patience.

Professor Nick Reed

 Academy Director, TRL

Nick is Academy Director at TRL, where he is with responsible for ensuring the technical quality of TRL’s research outputs, for supporting the academic development of TRL staff and for managing TRL’s engagement with stakeholders in industry and academia on programmes of collaborative research.

Nick joined the Human Factors and Simulation group at TRL in January 2004 following post-doctoral work in visual perception at the University of Oxford. He has led a wide variety of studies using the full mission, high fidelity car and truck simulators with a number of published articles, conference papers, and appearances in national and international media. Nick also championed work in the area of vehicle automation at TRL, culminating in his technical leadership of the GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project – a flagship UK Government project to investigate the implications of the introduction of automated vehicles in the urban environment.

House of Lords Committee visits GATEway

By | News

Members of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee today visited the GATEway Project in the Royal Borough of Greenwich as part of its ongoing inquiry into driverless vehicles.

The Committee have been exploring the potential uses and benefits of autonomous vehicles and the transition path needed for the co-existence of autonomous and conventional road vehicles. They have heard evidence from government officials, academics and industry experts on how driverless vehicles will fit into the wider transport strategy, whilst also exploring the socio-economic aspects in the deployment of self-driving cars.

 Taking place at InterContinental London – The O2 in Greenwich, members had the opportunity to see and test out the new technology for themselves. The Committee witnessed final testing of the first GATEway shuttle vehicle ahead of public trials and experienced TRL’s portable driving simulator, MiniDigiSim. Members were also taken for a ride in Geni, a development vehicle from GATEway partner Oxbotica that navigates using its autonomous operating system, Selenium.

The visit follows the House of Lord’s recent evidence session into driverless vehicles in which Professor Nick Reed, Academy Director at TRL gave evidence on behalf of the GATEway Project. The full evidence session can be viewed online here.

 Talking about the visit, the Committee’s Chairman, Lord Selborne, said:

 “Over the course of our inquiry we have heard compelling evidence on how autonomous vehicles can benefit society and the economy. However, if we are to realistically see these cars on UK roads in the near future, research and investment is vital. Projects such as GATEway ensure the roads are ready for driverless vehicles as well as the efficient integration of sophisticated automated transport systems into complex real world environments.”

 GATEway website image (14)

Public opinion sought on driverless cars ahead of arrival of first vehicle in Greenwich

By | News

Ahead of the arrival of the first driverless vehicle in Greenwich, members of the public are being asked to share what they think about these new breed of vehicles.

Local residents, businesses, commuters, students and visitors are being encouraged to share their views on driverless vehicles via a web-based sentiment mapping tool as part of a series of public engagement activities within GATEway– an £8million research project to investigate the use, perception and acceptance of automated vehicles in the UK.

Designed by experts from Commonplace, the online heat map is intended to track any changes in public attitude towards driverless vehicles during the two-year project, with contributors able to revisit the site as many times as they like, adding multiple comments. As well as assessing people’s attitudes towards driverless vehicles, contributors will also be asked where they think such vehicles would and wouldn’t work within the area.

“Over the course of the GATEway project we will be trialling a number of driverless vehicles in Greenwich, but what we’re really interested in finding out is what the public think of this new technology,” commented Mike Saunders, Co-Founder of Commonplace.

Councillor Sizwe James, Royal Borough of Greenwich added: added; “This is a chance for members of the public to provide feedback on how driverless vehicles might impact life in and around Greenwich. This is going to be one of the most significant transformations in our transport system and we’re putting local people right at the centre of exciting transformation.”

Over 400 participants have already contributed to the site, which takes roughly one minute to complete. Anyone wishing to take part can do so by visiting:

GATEway is an important part of the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s integrated smart city strategy launched in 2015.  The strategy sets out the Council’s plans for using the latest technologies to meet the needs of its rapidly growing population (34% between 2010-2028), to support service transformation at a time of acute pressure on public services,  and to create a stronger economy and more resilient built environment and communities.

GATEway is one of three projects awarded by Innovate UK under its competition entitled ‘Introducing driverless cars to UK roads’. The other two projects are UK Autodrive in Coventry and Milton Keynes, and Venturer in Bristol.

Preperation begins for GATEway public trials

By | Blog

Work has begun to prepare for the arrival of the very first GATEway driverless shuttle in Greenwich, ahead of public trials in 2017.

To enable trials to take place safely and efficiently, we have made some changes to Olympian Way, including new markings to show where the shuttles will operate.

From November 2016, the first GATEway shuttle vehicle will begin its final period of testing in Greenwich ahead of public trials. The shuttle will run in a dedicated lane,  alongside a separate shared pedestrian and cycle lane and pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use Olympian Way throughout the trial period.

The shuttle trial aims to demonstrate the use of automated vehicles for what is termed last-mile mobility, seamlessly connecting residential locations, commercial areas and transport hubs by a zero emission, low noise, on-demand transport system. For more information visit our FAQ page here.

What do you think about this project?

How will driverless vehicles affect you? Add your thoughts to our interactive map of the area. You can read the views of hundreds of people who’ve already done this and then add your own. It’ll only take a few seconds, click here to add your views.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to speak to us in person, why not attend a drop in session at the Digital Greenwich office: 11th Floor, 6 Mitre Passage, Greenwich Peninsula, SE10 0ER to give your views and find out more. These will take place throughout the trial period. To find out more email


Exploring public attitudes towards driverless vehicles

By | Blog

The idea of a driverless vehicle can seem unsettling, partly because it suggests a lesser amount of control and the suffix -less, also equates to missing – in this instance, of not being complete, or lacking. Autonomous vehicles on the other hand, might engender a different reaction: as something that is made to be self-governing, that doesn’t have to be operated by humans because it can work things out for itself, the autonomous vehicle represents an advanced technology that doesn’t need humans to function.

But the autonomous vehicle is the next step in vehicle evolution. Automated technology has existed in varying capacities for the last century – commercial airplanes, for example, are heavily automated meaning they can take off, fly and land on their own. However, there may be a critical difference in perceptions between automated and autonomous technology. While the former may be perceived to require inputs or supervision from an operator to be made in order to function (still present in case the conditions become unsuitable for automated operation), the latter acquires inputs and makes decisions on its own, enabling it to adjust to differences in external conditions.

So what do we think of when driverless vehicles are presented to us as an inevitability? As a popular subject for Sci-fi, robotics has often been portrayed as something that can go terribly wrong: Skynet, a self-aware form of artificial intelligence, from the Terminator franchise is bent on destroying humankind; Issac Asimov’s short stories from the I, Robot series (1940–1950) contain some of the best known examples of and instances in which humans struggle to control robots precisely because they are designed to be autonomous. Indeed, the idea of autonomous robotics presents broad ethical and philosophical questions – as demonstrated by Asimov’s character Cutie (QT1) when it declares: ‘I myself, exist, because I think.’

To help better understand public’s thoughts and feelings, we are currently exploring the public’s attitude towards the new technology in an effort to understand how the preconceptions of and preoccupations about driverless vehicles might be taken into account in the design process. It’s about engaging the public in conversation about the technology from the beginning to show them how autonomous vehicles work but also that the possibilities of what they can do are potentially boundless.

Within the GATEway project, we are approaching this from two perspectives. The first of which involves gathering information from co-creation workshops to gain a better understanding of the public’s perception.

We invited people from a variety of backgrounds (from experts in robotics to the general public) to engage in the discussions and think about sets of questions and scenarios allows the team to gain an insight into why some might fear the new technology and what people would like autonomous vehicles to do for them.

In total we hosted eight workshops, including over a hundred participants, producing thousands of hopes and fears about the future and more than 30 new driverless vehicle concepts detailing potential new features, services and opportunities to transform our cities.

These workshops, run by a team of designers from the Royal College of Art in London, are helping the GATEway team to better understand the needs, aspirations and concerns of a wide range of people including drivers, non-drivers, enthusiasts, professionals and those with additional needs. So what have we learnt so far?

During the workshops we asked participants to share their understanding of driverless vehicles and helped them to dig deeper into the impact that they might have on our everyday lives.

We started by asking everyone to share their hopes about driverless vehicles – considering issues like safety, ownership, costs as well as their impact on our society and the places that we live and work. Some of their thoughts included:

  • “We’ll never have to park, pay for parking or get fined for speeding again!”
  • “It will allow us to “re-think” the concept of the “road” so that it becomes a less dominant part of our towns and cities”
  • “We’ll get rid of boy racers and dangerous drivers without licenses”
  • “It might even be safer for pets and other animals when they are crossing the road”

And when we asked people to share their concerns we heard real worries about a future that is unknown and potentially highly disruptive:

  • “It will create a two tier system between those who can afford them and those who can’t.”
  • “Even more people might want to use cars instead of trains and buses, creating more congestion and leading to even more roads and urban sprawl.”
  • “It will make us more lazy and lead to an even bigger public health crisis.”
  • “Millions of jobs will be lost and will never be replaced.”
  • “It’s going to lead to the further automation of humanity.”

Many of the ideas were translated in real time by our workshop illustrators, Karen Jiyun Sung and Christiane Matz.

Workshopimage2We then asked everyone to form small teams so that they could co-develop future driverless vehicles that met their needs in new and delightful ways.

Teams started by imagining existing journeys and scenarios and then mapped out all the challenges that they might face during the trip. Journeys included commuting, shopping and trips to see friends or family.

Workshopimage6They then got to work with Playdoh, Lego, paper and pens! Channelling their inner child everyone managed to create imaginative and potentially ground breaking new vehicles that spoke about the positive opportunities of a driverless future.


We are now analysing the almost 500,000 words of recorded conversation to identify the opportunities and challenges that might help build a positive and inclusive driverless future.

Workshopimage3The second part to the project is about delivering the idea of autonomous technology to the public through a series of exhibitions which will present a variety of vehicles in different shapes and sizes that incorporate systems and services, even architectural spaces.

We’ll be showcasing this creative work as well as ideas from Vehicle Designers at the college in an exhibition at the Transport Museum in the New Year and further details will be shared in due course.

We look forward to seeing you then.



Dan Phillips

Visiting Tutor, Royal College of Art

Dan Phillips is a designer and engineer with 30 years’ experience in the development of innovative environments, products and services. He studied at Imperial College and the University of Cambridge and tutors on the Service Design programme at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and has been a member of a number of institutional advisory groups on cities, sustainability and the built environment.

Before coming to the RCA, Dan was Global Director for Sustainability at Buro Happold, ran his own design and innovation practice, the SEA, and worked at Eight Associates, Battle McCarthy, Arup and Ford on large scale projects in the UK, Europe, USA, Asia and Africa.