back to article Fleet of driverless pods to take over Milton Keynes town centre

Milton Keynes will play host to a fleet of smartphone-controlled driverless pods powered by electric motors and gunning around the town at 12mph. A hundred of the wee pods, which will only have enough space for two passengers and some luggage, will start rolling around the blocky Midlands town in 2015, whizzing between the …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Meh

    Milton wrote about a vision of Hell....

    Actually I don't think this is that bad an idea.

    A bit slow and frankly I think 1 person + 30Kg of shopping would have been adequate.

    But please for the love of $deity don't paint them White. That looks deeply s88t. :(

    BTW. Midlands

    I think Milton Keynes is in Bucks.

    Does that not make "The Home Counties?"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Milton wrote about a vision of Hell....

      "Milton wrote about a vision of Hell.... "

      I think traveling around Milton Keynes must be very similar esp. at 12mph

      1. OzBob

        Re: Milton wrote about a vision of Hell....

        Hey, if it was good enough for Cliff Richard on roller skates in the 80s,.... (would that be slower or faster than 12 mph)?

        http://youtu.be/sn9mLnKmPco

    2. Richard 81

      Re: Milton wrote about a vision of Hell....

      Since it's in Buckinghamshire it's in the South East region*. Yes it's also in the Home Counties, but then big parts of the Midlands, South East and East of England are too.

      *Our regional definitions are silly.

      1. eurobloke

        Re: Milton wrote about a vision of Hell....

        Milton Keynes is technically a city unitary authority, eg the same status as Peterborough.

        I will get my coat, now.

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Milton wrote about a vision of Hell....

          But what if you left your coat in the pod?

  2. frank ly Silver badge

    A hundred of the wee pods

    If they're automatic and only £2 to travel in them, they will be full of wee.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: A hundred of the wee pods

      Since they will be so handy and cheap, after the pubs close they will also be splattered with sick.

      Big question, Who is going to insure these things?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Bigger question : who's going to clean them ?

        I'm all for butler cars, but I am quite wary of sitting in a car that is used by everyone because "everyone" is a disgusting, filth-spreading git.

        I much prefer having my own, private self-driving car because I know exactly what I did in it.

        Also, it will need Internet access, because if I'm not driving, I'm sure as hell playing something.

        1. Martin Budden
          Go

          Yes I want a private self-driving car too, and I also think the Milton Keynes model (12mph, dedicated lane, full of wee) won't work long-term, but even so this is a fantastic project which I endorse whole-heartedly. Why? Because this will get authorities used to the idea of self-driving vehicles sharing the road with accident-prone-people-driven vehicles, which will make it much easier to get road laws updated properly, which will speed up the process of me getting the private self-driving car I want. So bring it on!

  3. Frankee Llonnygog

    Not on the sodding pavements!

    Please.

    1. Alan_Peery

      Re: Not on the sodding pavements!

      Was this just a knee jerk reply? I don't live in Milton Keynes, but if I am remembering the geography of the part of town they are talking about, there are some quite broad pavements. If that's the case, what's the problem?

  4. Steve Button

    Not quite right.

    We will be hopping into a car that will drive us to the cinema where we will tell it ‘park yourself and come back and get me at 10.15pm.’

    Surely you'll be telling it to pick you up "when the film finishes" and it will work out what time to arrive. And if the film runs late, it would take that into account. And of course "it" isn't going to sit there parked for 2 hours waiting for your film to finish, but will scoot around the city moving other people around. You could get any of 100 cars that happen to be close at the time.

    But saying that, 12 mph? And using dedicated lanes? Well, it's a start I suppose.

    I wonder how long it will take for young (chavs / hoodlums / plebs / oiks) to discover the game of "block the car" by standing in its way for a couple of minutes.

    1. Benjol

      Re: Not quite right.

      Or rolling them over like they do (allegedly) with sleeping cows...

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Not quite right.

        "Or rolling them over like they do (allegedly) with sleeping cows..."

        Nothing "alleged" about it in the US "cow tipping" is quite well known in the MidWest farming states*

        *Where options for night time entertainment among the yoof are limited unless you're a)Look older than 15 b)Have fake ID c)Fancy you're sibling d)Have a crush on some of your livestock.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Not quite right.

          "Nothing "alleged" about it in the US "cow tipping" is quite well known in the MidWest farming states*"

          I think you should refer to Snopes

          Having lived in the countryside from a very young age I can assure you that cows don't sleep much and when they do they usually lay down. They also have good enough vision to see by starlight (comes from being a prey animal) and should you actually get close enough to "tip" one, you'll probably get kicked hard enough to break something. That's if you don't go arse over tit in a few cowpats first whilst wandering round a field in the dark..

          It's amusing to watch townies being stupid in the countryside but it does annoy the animals.

      2. Steve Foster
        Boffin

        @Benjol

        Which, in Milton Keynes, would probably be quite impressive as they're made of concrete, of course.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_Cows

  5. Cliff

    The future!

    I love this, there will be a whole slew of straw man objections, but if you give me the chance to get home for £2 at about cycling speed but dry and with shopping any time if day or night, bring it on! Borisbikes have demonstrated that shared individual transport systems can work, this is a step further.

    Is it a perfect system? Unlikely, that comes from iterations of development, and that means starting somewhere.

    1. Code Monkey

      Re: The future!

      I'd welcome them in my own city*. Taxi home for bus prices with no prams/drunks/tinny R&B and no need to make smalltalk with a driver. Yes please!**

      * assuming they don't end up reeking of piss

      ** again, assuming they don't end up reeking of piss - it's worth repeating

      1. MrXavia

        Re: The future!

        They need to be fully self cleaning, not just because of the pee, but if the last guy got in after it was pissing with rain outside, and now I get in all dry only to have to sit on a wet seat... no thanks...

        But I guess with the addition of security cameras and having to register to use them, they will know who peed and be able to send them a bill..

        I would be more concerned about the drunks puking up in them!

  6. Richard 12 Silver badge

    Good idea

    Unfortunately the implementation will probably screw it up, rather like the Heathrow T5 Business pods.

    "What do you mean, 'electrified track'? That's just madness! The pods can charge up at the terminus."

    So after about 9am, they are all flat and stay that way until the last flight empties, because they never sit idle for long enough. And thus they are effectively useless, because you end up waiting 20-30 minutes for one to get enough charge to take you the half mile.

    I do wonder how often the batteries need replacing.

    I suspect these pods will do the same, though at least they have a good reason not to have electrified track.

  7. Crisp Silver badge

    £2 per journey?

    Why so much? Is each pod equipped with a mini bar and a monkey butler?

    1. Cliff

      Re: £2 per journey?

      The shortest cheapest bus fare in my city is £1.70, at £2 I'd bite their hands off.

      1. arober11

        £2 per journey?

        And that's likely to be heavily subsidised £2, as they carried out a PRT scoping exercise / trial in Daventry, a few years back, and several miles north of MK. If i remember correctly the POD's cost around £60k a go, plus many beer tokens were / would be required for POD stations, guide tracks, junction alterations, pedestrian crossing signage and other infrastructure. I also recall something about the PODS needing to have their battery packs replaced and the vehicles essentially rebuilt and painted every six months, so running costs were raised as a glaring issue, but for a while there were some POD's trundling the cycle paths of a UK town.

        1. Martin Budden
          Headmaster

          Re: £2 per journey?

          Are you a grocer?

  8. an it guy

    anyone think Wall-E when reading this?

    I just suddenly imagined lots of the UK filled with overweight people because it's just too darn convenient than walking

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Meh

      Re: anyone think Wall-E when reading this?

      "I just suddenly imagined lots of the UK filled with overweight people because it's just too darn convenient than walking"

      You mean the UK is full of fit, glowingly healthy people who are not morbidly obese?

      I did not know this.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: anyone think Wall-E when reading this?

      "I just suddenly imagined lots of the UK filled with overweight people because it's just too darn convenient than walking"

      No, that's America

    3. Euripides Pants Silver badge

      Re: anyone think Wall-E when reading this?

      I thought of the Johnnycabs in "Total Recall".

  9. MrMur

    I am wondering what the taxi drivers will make of this (there are enough of them in Milton Keynes.)

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      MK Taxi drivers rejoice

      They will have cleaner cabs as they will direct all the piss-heads to these so that they can throw up/piss themselves in them all for the measly price of £2. Mobile loo's anyone?

    2. messele

      I have to honest, I couldn't give a crap what the greedy, ignorant, under skilled bumrushing sods think, bring it on!

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        I rarely use taxis, but last week I was in a strange city* on a tight schedule, so I got a cab from outside the railway station (I could claim expenses, so didn't worry). Cost for about 2.5 miles across the centre of the city - £7.00.

        Later, I found out that some other delegates were going back on the same train, so we asked the organisers to book us a taxi. Same journey in reverse in roughly the same traffic - £5.00 (though it was a private hire rather than a cab, and, the organisers, being a hospital, probably have a contract rate). This caused some discussion amongst the other three, who had got a taxi at the same time(-ish) as me (they had been on the same train). Their journey had taken ten minutes longer then mine (they didn't recognise any of the streets taken on the return trip) and cost £20! The point? Yes, there are some robbing bastards in taxis.

        However, in Prague the taxi drivers are so powerful they have effectively blocked an extension of the tram system to the airport because it would eat into their ability to gouge tourists to the tune of up to 300%. We could have it worse!

        *Glasgow - a very strange city!

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    IT Angle

    Interesting question.

    Cash or charge?

    Records of use retained 1 day/week/year/century ?

    Logic says not retained, but you can bet some data fetishist will want to get their sticky fingers into it.

  11. Malc
    Terminator

    Rise Of The Machines

    Fleshies ensconced within, possibly not paying full attention to where they're being taken, what could go wrong?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Rise Of The Machines

      I had a similar thought but La Cabina is what came to mind for me.

  12. Robert Grant

    Midlands town?

    You wish. Sorry South East England, MK is yours!

    1. messele

      Re: Midlands town?

      Too right, we wouldn't want to drag the pristine Coventry, Solihull, Hinckley, Digbeth, Rugby etc. down with that lot.

      People might start to think they're all shitholes.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps a piss* and vom detector to redirect to a cleaning station and auto charge the account that booked it.

    * They might even get a diagnosis of which ever STD they've caught.

    http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/login.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6633956&url=http%3A%2F%2Fieeexplore.ieee.org%2Fiel7%2F6613812%2F6633894%2F06633956.pdf%3Farnumber%3D6633956

    http://www.easylinkuk.co.uk/page53.html

  14. Hugh Jarce
    Go

    Cars for 1 mile trips ... helping to pedestrianise city centres ...

    Look, seriously, anyone walking an entire mile is not really a "pedestrian", but some kind of elite ultra-distance athletic freak. We must use cars for that kind of multi-yard endurathon in our happy chubby future - which is the right kind of future for all clear thinking people: the future is big, the future is Hugh Jarced.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cars for 1 mile trips ... helping to pedestrianise city centres ...

      Well I would happily walk a mile between station and my destination, and I am very unfit!!

      Sure I have driven a mile before when time is of the essence, or I am carrying items, or I have two little kids with me etc... But on my own, I would choose to spend 20 minutes to walk it....

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Cars for 1 mile trips ... helping to pedestrianise city centres ...

        "Sure I have driven a mile before when time is of the essence, or I am carrying items, or I have two little kids with me etc.."

        Most short journeys are for exactly that kind of reason. If the poods can handle that (and stay clean) then they have an application.

        1. Martin Budden

          Re: Cars for 1 mile trips ... helping to pedestrianise city centres ...

          Upvoted for "poods"!

  15. Steve Mw
    Childcatcher

    Faces the same legal issues as driverless cars

    So, when this automated device crashes into someone's car or runs over a pedestrian (which it will it some point) where does the liability lie? Cannot be the occupant if they have no real time control over it, pretty sure the council won't want to be paying out, likewise with the manufacturer.

    1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: Faces the same legal issues as driverless cars

      ...where does the liability lie? Cannot be the occupant if they have no real time control over it, pretty sure the council won't want to be paying out, likewise with the manufacturer...

      Our legal system seems pretty capable of dealing with that issue. Liability will be shared between the people/organisation that allowed it to be on the road, and the person who may have contributed to the accident.

      So, if one runs amuck due to a malfunction and kills a pedestrian, the operators will be be at fault (though they may be able to offload some of that to the manufacturer if it was a design failure.

      If a passenger sabotages one and starts a fire, for instance, or manages to derail one, they are likely to be blamed...

  16. Triggerfish

    I have this vision

    Of little egg like pods zooming around like some 60s sci fi.

    And I like it.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waste of £m's.

    The technology might be here but the british have not evolved enough. They will be vandalised, stolen, pissed in, and basically trashed.

    If the general public, don't the taxi drivers will!

    Can we make sure that those responsible got NOT ONE PENNY of public money when the impending failure comes?

    NEVER GONNA HAPPEN!

  18. Colin 4
    Coat

    12mph [≈ World record time marathon, 2h03m59s]

    Would everyone please stop entering 12mph in their comments ?

    My entire page is filled with "[≈ World record time marathon, 2h03m59s]" courtesy of Dictionary of Numbers

    Oh no, I typed 12mph too. sorry ...

    1. Arthur Jackson
      Go

      Re: 12mph [≈ World record time marathon, 2h03m59s]

      Needs updating, Kipsang ran 2:03:23 in Berlin last month. ( and earned $120,000 )

  19. DJV Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I can't wait for Jeremy Clarkson to test drive one on Top Gear!

  20. knarf

    Taxis WILL KILL THEM ALL

    Expect Taxis to run a ramming free for all at their income drops, a wee nudge here and there.

    Also what happens if you are hit by one, how do you ask the pod for its insurance details. So these things will have 24-7 video linked to a base station and scooting about recording everything.

  21. Euripides Pants Silver badge
    Trollface

    "navigate around obstacles like buildings, roadworks and people"

    How will they navigate around Daleks?

    1. Resound

      They'll take the stairs.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019