UK’s Lutz Pod (via Lutz)

When we hear about 150 car pile-ups, it begs the question, “when will self-driving cars be here?” While the UK’s Lutz pod is making history as the first driverless pod to be used in a public area, critics of the driverless car believe it will be a long while before we see these vehicles on the road.


The UK’s Lutz pod is a beacon of hope in driverless automobile technology. It’s making history for being the first driverless pod in the UK, but also the first expected to be used in a public area in the region. The Lutz is by no means fit for the road, but it’s probably one of the closest driverless automobiles on the cusp of entering the market.


The Lutz Pod is a driverless vehicle largely intended for commercial use. Created by Transport Systems Catapult and the RDM Group, the futuristic pod seats two people and can transport them at a whopping 15mph. It’s equipped with six cameras and LIDAR sensors to give riders and the smart technology a 360-degree view. The car can run for six hours per charge and is intended to transport elderly people or lazy shoppers in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England. While the Lutz pod is gearing up for live, public trials this summer, driverless cars intended for the consumer market aren’t having as much luck.



Transport Research Laboratory’s Driverless Simulation (via TRL)


While driverless car manufacturers, including Audi, are perfecting their car’s smart controls, many are neglecting where human passengers fit in. In an attempt to fix this problem, the Transport Research Laboratory was commissioned by the U.K. government to determine how a humans respond in smart cars and how smoothly (or abrupt) the shift from automatic to manual controls went. The results were less than impressive.


The facility houses a driverless Honda Civic and recruits people to take simulated drives, as it analyzes the human psyche in the futuristic vehicle. Drivers have discovered that when they want to take control of the vehicle, it often happens abruptly, perhaps making the probability of an accident all the more likely. Companies are working hard on devising a car that really can drive itself safely, while incorporating a manual system that makes human passengers feel more comfortable. Driverless cars sound great, but in dangerous traffic situations, can we really entrust smart cars with our lives?


While companies work out the kinks on the futuristic car with driverless capabilities, the Transport Research Laboratory was also looking at the probability of bringing driverless technology to the trucking industry. While the TRL was hoping to improve fuel efficiency with their research, it would be interesting to see smart trucks to combat the high prevalence of trucking accidents for cross-country drivers here in the U.S. There is no word yet on any U.S.-based company tackling that market, but the consumer market here is looking increasingly promising.


Audi RS 7 concept car specs (via Audi)


The Audi RS 7 concept car made history on the Ascari racetrack in Spain by driving around the track at a record-breaking 149mph. Audi is also trying to incorporate a first-class driving experience for autonomous car passengers. As such, the car houses a television and passengers can look out the window and relax, knowing ‘Audi is in control.’ The company hasn’t addressed the ability for the car to switch back into manual mode, but perhaps as the car moves from concept to consumer market, it’ll become more feasible. For now, it looks like we’re going to have to drive our own cars. But get ready boys; we’re heading towards the future.



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