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Technology & Innovation

Bye-Bye, Buses; Hello, Driverless Pods

The English town of Milton Keynes plans to replace its current public transportation system with 100 electric pods that customers can call and pay for using a smartphone. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Milton Keynes, a town about 45 miles northwest of London, is preparing to become the first municipality in England to have a public transportation system consisting entirely of 100 self-driving electric pods. Customers can order and pay £2 (about US$3.20) for a pod using a smartphone. Each pod seats two people and their luggage, and will travel on a special roadway at speeds of up to 12 miles per hour. Charging stations will be installed at various locations along routes. The project is expected to roll out in full by 2017 and should cost £65 million (about US$104 million) over the next five years.

What’s the Big Idea?

The proposed system is similar to one that’s worked without major issues at London’s Heathrow Airport for the last two years. Milton Keynes was selected as the location “due to its proximity to London, its unusually wide roads and its willingness to embrace new technology.” If the project proves successful, it could represent a significant step towards general driverless public — and private — transportation.

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