First trials of driverless vehicles get underway in Royal Borough of Greenwich

Government ministers will today launch the start of driverless car trials in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

The Royal Borough of Greenwich is the location and the local authority partner in the GATEway trials (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment project) – one of three projects chosen by the Government to deliver demonstrations of automated vehicles in urban environments. The trial officially gets underway at Greenwich Peninsula today, with Business Secretary Vince Cable and Transport Minister Claire Perry in attendance.

The GATEway project includes the testing of a fully driverless vehicle named the Meridian Shuttle, which will be evaluated in various scenarios over the next two years. This morning (Wednesday 11 Feb) it will take its inaugural journey at Greenwich Peninsula.

Over the next two years the GATEway project will:

  • Demonstrate automated transport systems in a range of environments
  • Explore the legal and technical changes required to introduce automated vehicles
  •  Explore the reactions of both pedestrians, drivers and other road users to automated vehicles

The Royal Borough of Greenwich is the ideal location for the trials to explore how driverless vehicles might work in an urban setting. The Royal Borough will be examining all aspects of the trials – from potential impacts on road layout, car park positions and legislation to looking at how the vehicles could bring significant benefits in regard to road safety and air quality.

Councillor Denise Hyland, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich said: “It’s thrilling to see these trials get underway in Greenwich, really cementing the area’s reputation as a place of innovation and advancing new technology. Greenwich Peninsula provides the ideal location for us to explore what this technology can offer people and how it will eventually be implemented in the real world. We’re proud here in Greenwich to be at the forefront of developing this technology. We offer the ideal setting for these trials; an expanding population, a complex urban environment and a variety of existing and expanding transport links – which will really tell us what we need to know about putting driverless vehicles into an urban setting”.

Councillor Sizwe James, Royal Borough of Greenwich Cabinet Member for Business, Employment and Skills said: “The technology sector is really important for us here in Greenwich and we know that a project like this – with global interest – will bring new jobs to the area. New companies involved in this and other so-called ‘Smart City’ technology are already moving their business to Greenwich and we know more will follow. We already have more than 1,000 technology businesses based in the Royal borough of Greenwich and as this sector grows it will help to further strengthen the local economy”

Councillor Danny Thorpe, Royal Borough of Greenwich Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport said: “Hosting these trials is both really exciting and really important for us. Automated vehicles represent a real transport solution for the future and with the local population set to grow by 40% over the next decade or so it’s really good news that we can look at more efficient ways of moving people around. With one of the most ambitious programmes of regeneration in Europe, we provide the ideal location for these trials and we can seriously look at how to incorporate this new technology into future transport and infrastructure planning”

Transport Minister Claire Perry said: “Driverless cars are the future. I want the UK to be open-minded and embrace a technology that could transform our roads and open up a brand new route for global investment. “The breadth of public and private sector involvement in the GATEway project is testament to the potential of driverless cars and how much we stand to gain from testing them further. I want to thank the Greenwich team for all the work they have done so far and I will be watching the trials with interest.”

Project lead Dr Nick Reed said: “The innovative GATEway project will help place the UK at the forefront of the rapidly emerging sector of research and development related to automated vehicles. Through the strengths of the consortium and the project location within Greenwich – at the heart of the UK’s only globally recognised megacity, we can start addressing the technical, societal and legal barriers to automated vehicles and create a world class, technology-agnostic testing environment to help deliver the future of urban mobility.”

claire.perry@royalgreenwich.gov.uk 020 8921 5042