Self-driving pods nominated for prestigious award

Milton Keynes’ self-driving pods project has been included on the shortlist for this year’s SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) Automotive Award for Innovation.

The LUTZ Pathfinder project will trial three electric-powered self-driving pods around pedestrianised areas of Milton Keynes in early 2016.

The project has been shortlisted alongside four other contenders with the winner due to be announced at London’s Grosvenor house on Tuesday 24 November 2015.

Now in its sixth year, the SMMT sets out to demonstrate the “wealth of talent that exists within the UK automotive sector”, with previous winners including Jaguar Land Rover’s low-carbon Range e- vehicle, the Optare Versa EV electric bus and Ford’s EcoBoost engine.

Overseen by the Transport Systems Catapult on behalf of the UK Automotive Council, LUTZ Pathfinder is a collaborative project involving Coventry-based manufacturers RDM, the University of Oxford’s Mobile Robotics Group (MRG) and Milton Keynes Council.

Steve Yianni, CEO at Transport Systems Catapult said, “It is great news that the LUTZ Pathfinder project has been shortlisted for this award in particular, because it really is a fantastic example of UK innovation”.

“We have combined cutting-edge British design and manufacturing, in the form of RDM, with the world-leading control system technology of Oxford’s MRG and are now working with Milton Keynes’ forward-thinking council to take self-driving vehicles out of the laboratory and into the real world.”

Geoff Snelson, Director of Strategy at Milton Keynes Council said, “The Autonomous Pods have the potential to radically change the way we travel in our city centres and trialling these vehicles in Milton Keynes will help establish the capabilities and point to how and where they can be deployed in the future.”

The project’s first base vehicle was presented to the public outside Central Milton Keynes train station last month, and is now in Oxford, being fitted with its autonomous control system.

SMMT Automotive Award for Innovation nominations:

  • Transport Systems Catapult: LUTZ Pathfinder pods
  • ZeroLight: Digital 3D car configurator
  • Evolute Drives: Msys Transmission
  • Oxford Advanced Surfaces: Onto adhesion
  • Leyland Trucks: Future truck chassis concept