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Will the driverless cars introduced into Milton Keynes persuade motorists to leave their own cars at home?

'The Pod Car' A Driverless Vehicle Which Is Being Showcased At TAlthough Google has logged more than 300,000 miles in experimental driverless cars in the US, so far only the driverless pods at Heathrow Airport have pioneered the technology in the UK.  Now the town of Milton Keynes has taken a bold step, announcing the introduction of driverless pods to ply its town centre.  The first 20 vehicles will be controlled by the driver, and will be brought in by 2015 to allow other road users to become used to the concept.  By 2017, the first 100 fully-automated driverless vehicles should be in operation.  The ‘pods’ will travel on designated routes at up to 12 mph, not a great speed, but close to the average speeds that traffic moves at in our cities.  Users will be able to book them using smart-phones, and they will allow two passengers to travel in them reading newspapers, playing computer games, or otherwise taking a break from the chores and stress of driving themselves.  Oxford and Cambridge Universities have worked with Arup, the engineering firm, to develop the system, and the government has put up a modest £1.5m to help seed the project, part of the £75m it is putting up to advance low carbon technologies.

I see this as the bow wave of a future in which electric drives largely replace internal combustion engines, especially in our cities.  This is one of the technologies that hold the possibility of transforming our economy just as the early automobiles did.  I intend to be an early adopter.  I will visit Milton Keynes in 2015 to drive one, and again in 2017 to be driven by one.  And yes, in the unlikely event that I will still own an internal combustion engine car by then, I will leave it at home when I do so.

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