British engineering to put autonomous vehicles on London’s roads

Three UK companies are collaborating on a project that will see autonomous vehicles operating on the streets of London this summer.


Westfield Sportscars, Heathrow Enterprises and Oxbotica will use British engineering and software capabilities to develop pods that can operate autonomously and safely on the streets of London as part of the GATEway driverless car project that is taking place in the London borough of Greenwich.

The three GATEway project companies will co-develop Ultra PODS that are in service at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 where they’ve carried 1.5m passengers and completed three million kilometres of fully automated operation.

Prof Nick Reed, academy director at TRL and technical director for GATEway said: “If the trials prove successful, we expect these iconic vehicles to become a familiar sight in many cities around the world.”

Led by Westfield Sportcars, these pods will now be adapted to navigate the streets of Greenwich without the need for dedicated tracks.

Westfield will act as the vehicle integrator and manufacturer of the pods. The company will also be responsible for the design and testing of the vehicles and ensuring they are manufactured in accordance with current type approval requirements.

Heathrow Enterprises will be responsible for vehicle software engineering, while Oxbotica will deploy its vertically integrated autonomy solution into the vehicles, which includes mapping, localisation, perception and trajectory planning.

It will also implement a cloud-based shuttle management system that will enable the shuttles to operate as part of a synchronised, self-governing ecosystem, complete with smartphone booking applications, monitoring and reporting.

The GATEway project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) is an £8m project jointly funded by Innovate UK and industry. Led by TRL, the project will investigate public perception, reaction and engagement with a range of different types of automated vehicles.

The shuttle trial, which is one of three automated vehicle tests within the GATEway project, will investigate public acceptance of automated shuttle vehicles within the urban mobility landscape. Other trials set to take place in the project include autonomous valet parking and automated deliveries.