New Driverless Vehicles Could Soon Run on the Lake District’s Roads - Dispatch Weekly

May 9, 2018 - Reading time: 5 minutes

The UNESCO World Heritage Site is currently modernising access to its park with some electric self-driving-vehicles to be used as alternative sustainable transport.  The UK’s popular national park which is located in the Lake District has teamed up with the Westfield Technology Group to trial “driverless pods” on its roads as a potential solution; and have become the first National Park to adopt such high technology.


About Westfield Technology Group

The Westfield Technology Group is one of the leading driverless vehicle providers in Great Britain, and it is also the first company to obtain European Small Series Type Approval for its vehicles, processes and premises. This approval allows the company to develop and test their autonomous cars in some selected area in the UK.

Their POD (autonomous cars) have been developed with the help of the Heathrow Airport, which already utilises a Personal Rapid Transit technology provided by ULTra PRT. The Westfield Technology Group used all the data of the original system that has completed more than 5 million kilometres between the airport and the different Ultra stations that are located around it (Heathrow T5 Business Parking for instance).

The trials are now ongoing, and the public seems to be more and more confident in autonomous and driverless cars, which is likely to become a big part of our journeys in the future.

Why Use This Technology in Lake District?

You could ask yourself what is the point of bringing autonomous little electric cars in a National Park?  Approximately, 18 million people visit the Lake District each year, and this creates some issues, particularly with the traffic caused by this huge amount of people. In this regard, the self-driving-vehicles could be the solution to traffic jams near areas such as Grisedale or Buttermere.

The PODs use sensors to detect road conditions and any obstacles in order to transport visitors in the best way possible. The car is equipped with an onboard computer which anticipates any change in the driving and road conditions; and it also brakes faster than a human driver would. Moreover, passengers of the cars can contact the control centre if there is an emergency.


A Sustainable Conveyance

This technology is powered by electricity, it is an environment-friendly and a sustainable way to move people around without polluting the beautiful area of Lake District. Commenting on the trial of the POD, Richard Leafe the CEO of the Lake District National Park said, “Driverless pods are a really interesting concept and while this is not necessarily something that will be seen on the Lake District streets soon, it’s vital we explore a range of solutions to sustainable travel.”  The tests will be studied and the final decision for the installation of the PODs will be taken in June.

One key objective of the trialling is to obtain feedback from local residents; and some have suggested that the investments should go into much-needed sectors like infrastructure and public transports, while others fear that the initiative will reduce the beauty of the area.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.