Self-Driving Cars To Hit London's Streets In July

Jan 31, 2016 01:33 PM EST | John Nassivera

A fleet of self-driving cars are set to hit the streets of London this summer as the city's first autonomous vehicles.

The pods, based on the design of Heathrow Airport's electric passenger shuttles, are part of the GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project aimed at testing driverless vehicles to show that can serve as a legitimate transport option in the U.K., according to The Telegraph.

The project will test seven of the cars in the Greenwich district in July. While the team behind the pods are still planning the route, it may include the North Greenwich tube station, businesses near the O2 Arena and residential areas.

A consortium of companies and the U.K.'s public innovation agency are providing funding for the 8 million-pound project, ABC News reported.

Researchers will try to see how pedestrians and human drivers interact with the autonomous cars, each of which will have room for up to six passengers. One passenger will be tasked with staying in the pod at all times to press an emergency button in case there is a problem.

The tests will be held for three months with "invited" users before the GATEway team opens them to the general public, Wired noted.

The team also plans on running tests for valet parking and automated urban deliveries, The Telegraph reported.

"If the trials prove successful, we expect these iconic vehicles to become a familiar sight in many cities around the world," said Nick Reed, technical director of the GATEway project.

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