back to article Fancy sitting in a Level 4 driverless car roaming London? Get in line

World+dog will be let loose with Level 4 driverless cars in London, the Greenwich Gateway consortium has declared. The vehicles themselves have been trundling around the southeastern London borough for about a year, as part of a wider trial led by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and the government. For the next four …

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Can we have them

Out in the sticks to try?

Ideally preset route will be circular tour of various pubs including a stop off point near my home and that of a few of my friends.

That will enable testing of driverless car in only situation they are wanted - saving someone from the dread designated driver role.

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Re: Can we have them

> That will enable testing of driverless car in only situation they are wanted - saving someone from the dread designated driver role.

Letting me take a nap on the way to / from work is pretty high on my list of desired use cases, too.

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Re: Can we have them

"In practice a level 4 vehicle is capable of handling "most" road scenarios it may encounter, though retains the capability to throw control back at the human if it can't cope."

Are you sure?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can we have them

>Letting me take a nap on the way to / from work is pretty high on my list of desired use cases, too.

Driverless cars aren't needed for that if you catch the train however you do run the risk of loss of wallet, mobile phone and bag plus to add insult to injury your buttocks may have been fondled and you wake up 14 stops past your station.

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Re: Can we have them

In fact there's a perfect use case near here. There are two villages on either side of the A36 to Bath, both with narrow streets. The bus service to Bath takes quite a while to navigate the villages.

A driverless microbus could travel around the villages and pick up and drop passengers at a bus stop on the main road. It would be a fixed route. It would save time, driver cost, and allow a more frequent service.

I am sure many other places have the same opportunities - I recall a bus service in Newcastle that goes round a sequence of housing estates parallel to a main road, another opportunity for a fixed route with dropoff points on the main road to the city.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can we have them

It would save time, driver cost, and allow a more frequent service.

And be hideously uneconomic, due to the multiplicity of vehicles. Not to mention that in the UK, these micro buses would soon be used as mobile toilets, brothels and drug booths. A bit like trains are now, despite the supposed presence of staff, dedicated transport police and internal CCTV.

So long as the user's pay for the service without demanding a subsidy, I suppose that I shouldn't complain.

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Re: Can we have them

A driverless microbus could travel around the villages and pick up and drop passengers at a bus stop on the main road. It would be a fixed route. It would save time, driver cost, and allow a more frequent service.

To save a few minutes of driver time at £10 an hour you have to buy an extra autonomous vehicle which is parked out of use most of the time. This may not be the economic miracle you are looking for.

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Re: Can we have them

"Are you sure?"

One look at the photo shows that vehicle couldn't handle a brick left in the road scenario. With a top speed of 10mph they couldn't participate in most road scenarios anyway which is why they have their own special road with their own lane and markings.

The whole scheme is pathetic, irrelevant, and a waste of money which of course means it must be...

"jointly funded by government and industry"

Funny how they always manage to misspell taxpayer.

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Re: Can we have them

@AC - Cannot say any of teh trains I use have had obvious signs of drug / brothel use -maybe I just pick the dull trains. Though no need for brothel facilities on the sardine specials when people are tightly crammed in the aisle & you're never sure if its an umbrella handle or something else pressing against your buttocks

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Re: Can we have them

"A driverless microbus could travel around the villages and pick up and drop passengers at a bus stop on the main road. "

Yup, and a set of them can entrain themselves for peak periods.

Such a bus-train would majorly mitigate the stupid costs of running 40-seat busses when there are only a half dozen passengers AND the stupidly high roading costs of running 40 seat busses vs 40 cars (the 40 seat bus when empty does at least 10,000 times the road damage of 40 cars with 4 passengers onboard)

Automated vehicles will make some big changes to how perceive both taxi and bus services. There's a huge potential for blending (bus in peak periods, taxi in offpeak, etc)

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Devil

Re: Can we have them

ideally you could "subscribe" to a service where you can get a car within a few minutes, better than a taxi and on call for semi-emergencies, with a regular taxi service as a backup for unexpected demand.

Electric car fans would probably appreciate this kind of service the most. They could _ALL_ be electric, and would re-charge themselves at the "base" where they're all kept.

Ideally the service would include some 'long distance' vehicles that are gasoline powered, but otherwise your average trip to the mall or picking up groceries would be covered by your subscription.

If it's properly managed, cars will "re-arrange" themselves between storage lots as economically as possible, maybe driving you to the store, and parking at a different lot, then getting you at the store, and parking at the original lot [maybe not even the same car, but so what]. That kind of thing.

Best usage would be for people who have a hard time driving or can't get a license for some reason. TOTAL mobility. It's a good thing.

I doubt they'll replace privately owned vehicles, or human-driven vehicles, especially for long trips or "out in the boondocks" excursions. Still, I'm looking forward to seeing these things.

But I doubt they'll replace cabs. Sometimes you just need to have a driver, to handle luggage, for the extra customer service, to get local info from, yotta yotta.

And then public transportation is most likely going to remain cheaper than a "driverless car subscription". But the 'driverless car subscription' should be cheaper than a car payment + insurance + fuel + maintenance (and that would be the selling feature).

A friend of mine used to subscribe to a service where he could get a car to drive with an hours' notice or something like that. It worked pretty well for him until he started driving EVERY day and then he bought one for himself. Up until that point he'd take the train to work. When that became too inconvenient, he started driving. But if it had been available at BOTH ends of the trip, to the station, then from station to work, then back to the station, etc. he might've continued taking the train.

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Re: Can we have them

That will enable testing of driverless car in only situation they are wanted - saving someone from the dread designated driver role.

I agree, that is the primary use case, however... there are others.

Disabled people who cannot currently drive might enjoy the greater independence self driving cars can bring.

My personal most frequent use case would be to take me to work while napping in the morning, and bring me home again in the evening while I get in a bit of gaming time, or study something, or maybe nap again if it was a 'long lunch'.

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Re: Can we have them

...these micro buses would soon be used as mobile toilets, brothels and drug booths. A bit like trains are now...

I assume the ladies of fiscal morality must be found in 1st class, because I've never seen anyone charging for it in the pleb carriages.

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Maybe start by setting up their web server?

I think the url on the front of the "pod" in the photo says driverless.drl.co.uk - which currently returns a WebTitan error, "Unable to determine IP address from host name."

Doesn't inspire much confidence!

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Nope, it's driverless.trl.co.uk - Transport Research Laboratory

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That's not what L4 Means

"In practice a level 4 vehicle is capable of handling "most" road scenarios it may encounter, though retains the capability to throw control back at the human if it can't cope."

Not true. L4 means that the car is capable of full autonomy (i.e. it NEVER needs to hand back control to a human) but only when driving within a particular constrained situation or scenario. In this case that limitation is geographic: they can only drive around one area of Greenwich presumably on roads that have been mapped for the project.

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The commercial version...

...will have a pole poking out the top where a bloke with a moneybag descends on you to extract cash, then leaps to the next vehicle's pole when you ram it hard. After a while the music stops and everyone gets out.

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Joke

Purpose of safety steward

Perhaps the steward is trained to shout "jump out!" in the event of an emergency?

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optimal

Steward hops out and runs in front waving a red flag...

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Will I be burned riding this?

Looks like a Toaster. Can they design it to look more car-like?

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Re: Will I be burned riding this?

"Looks like a Toaster. Can they design it to look more car-like?"

Why?

To me it looks like a mini-bus or a black cab without a bonnet... which is essentially what it is.

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another one

Yet another slow-moving obstacle to be accounted for while on my bike.

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Anonymous Coward

So not ready for prime time

Allowing these unsafe vehicles on the roadways is inexcusable.

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Re: So not ready for prime time

"Allowing these unsafe vehicles on the roadways is inexcusable."

They're arguably safer than a piece of complex machinery piloted by an unstable, highly emotional monkey which statistically is likely to attempt to use the machine as a weapon from time to time.

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If it ain't a JohnnyCab, I ain't interested!

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