Automotive

Lutz Patherfinder driverless pods on the road to roll-out

Lutz Patherfinder driverless p...
The Lutz Pathfinder is an autonomous pod vehicle that is about to be trialed in Milton Keynes, UK (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
The Lutz Pathfinder is an autonomous pod vehicle that is about to be trialed in Milton Keynes, UK (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
View 18 Images
The Lutz Pathfinder is an autonomous pod vehicle that is about to be trialed in Milton Keynes, UK (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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The Lutz Pathfinder is an autonomous pod vehicle that is about to be trialed in Milton Keynes, UK (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
The Lutz Pathfinder is designed and built by engineering group RDM (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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The Lutz Pathfinder is designed and built by engineering group RDM (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
The Lutz Pathfinder is equipped with sensor and navigation technology provided by the University of Oxford's Mobile Robotics Group (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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The Lutz Pathfinder is equipped with sensor and navigation technology provided by the University of Oxford's Mobile Robotics Group (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
The Lutz Pathfinder is part of a project being run by the UK's "innovation center for Intelligent Mobility" Transport Systems Catapult (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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The Lutz Pathfinder is part of a project being run by the UK's "innovation center for Intelligent Mobility" Transport Systems Catapult (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
Transport Systems Catapult says it is the first time driverless vehicles will have been used in an urban community setting (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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Transport Systems Catapult says it is the first time driverless vehicles will have been used in an urban community setting (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
A diagram of the sensors on the Lutz Pathfinder (Image: Transport Systems Catapult)
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A diagram of the sensors on the Lutz Pathfinder (Image: Transport Systems Catapult)
The Lutz Pathfinder is designed to accommodate two adults (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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The Lutz Pathfinder is designed to accommodate two adults (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
The Lutz Pathfinder measures 1,933 mm (76.1 in) long, 1,400 mm (55.1 in) wide and 1,682 mm (66.2 in) tall (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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The Lutz Pathfinder measures 1,933 mm (76.1 in) long, 1,400 mm (55.1 in) wide and 1,682 mm (66.2 in) tall (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
The Lutz Pathfinder has been developed in the UK (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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The Lutz Pathfinder has been developed in the UK (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
The Lutz Pathfinder uses LIDAR sensors for mapping the surrounding area (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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The Lutz Pathfinder uses LIDAR sensors for mapping the surrounding area (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
The wheels of the Lutz Pathfinder are tucked partially under the vehicle's body (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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The wheels of the Lutz Pathfinder are tucked partially under the vehicle's body (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
The lower trim along the side of the Lutz Pathfinder (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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The lower trim along the side of the Lutz Pathfinder (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
The front of the Lutz Pathfinder (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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The front of the Lutz Pathfinder (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
Virtually the entire side of the Lutz Pathfinder is a door (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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Virtually the entire side of the Lutz Pathfinder is a door (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
A sensor on the Lutz Pathfinder (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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A sensor on the Lutz Pathfinder (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
The wheels of the Lutz Pathfinder have covers to protect pedestrians from the moving parts (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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The wheels of the Lutz Pathfinder have covers to protect pedestrians from the moving parts (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
There are LIDAR and radar sensors on each corner of the Lutz Pathfinder, as well as LIDAR sensors at the front and rear (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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There are LIDAR and radar sensors on each corner of the Lutz Pathfinder, as well as LIDAR sensors at the front and rear (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
Infra-red proximity sensors are used to stop the Lutz Pathfinder should it get too close to anything (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
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Infra-red proximity sensors are used to stop the Lutz Pathfinder should it get too close to anything (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
View gallery - 18 images

A new driverless vehicle that should soon be available for the public to use has been unveiled in the UK. The Lutz Pathfinder is an autonomous pod that is designed to drive on pavements and in pedestrianized areas. Once successfully trialed, the pods will transport people around the city of Milton Keynes.

The Lutz Pathfinder is designed and built by engineering group RDM and is equipped with sensor and navigation technology provided by the University of Oxford's Mobile Robotics Group. It is part of a project being run by the UK's "innovation center for Intelligent Mobility" Transport Systems Catapult.

The project is aimed at catalyzing and promoting the use of new and emerging transport technologies, in this case autonomous vehicles. Transport Systems Catapult says it the first time driverless vehicles will have been used in an urban community setting.

The Lutz Pathfinder measures 1,933 mm (76.1 in) long, 1,400 mm (55.1 in) wide and 1,682 mm (66.2 in) tall (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
The Lutz Pathfinder measures 1,933 mm (76.1 in) long, 1,400 mm (55.1 in) wide and 1,682 mm (66.2 in) tall (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)

Measuring 1,933 mm (76.1 in) long, 1,400 mm (55.1 in) wide and 1,682 mm (66.2 in) tall, the pods are designed to carry two adults and a maximum payload of 240 kg (529 lb). They are powered by a lithium-ion phosphate battery pack that provides a range of around 40 mi (64 km) or 8 hours and takes around 4 hours to fully recharge. The top speed is limited to 15 mph (24 km/h).

RDM tells Gizmag that a total of 22 sensors are used to help the vehicle navigate and to ensure the safety of pedestrians. The data generated from these sensors is pulled together by an internal computer to create a composite view of what is going on around the vehicle.

The technology used includes light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors for mapping the surrounding area and radar sensors for detecting the position of other vehicles. Video cameras are used for for pulling in real-time information about factors like pedestrians and traffic lights, whilst infra-red proximity sensors are used to stop the pods should they get too close to anything.

The Lutz Pathfinder uses LIDAR sensors for mapping the surrounding area (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)
The Lutz Pathfinder uses LIDAR sensors for mapping the surrounding area (Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)

The pod itself has been designed to be very compact, with an upright seating position for the occupants. The wheels are tucked partially under the vehicle's body and have covers to protect pedestrians from the moving parts. Virtually the entire side of the pod is a door, minimizing the the number of shutlines and providing easier access.

An initial trial using three pods will be carried out later this year, in an allocated area between Milton Keynes Central train station and the town center. Assuming the trial is successful, the pods will be rolled out for "last mile use" between the train station and other nearby locations. Users will be able to book a pod using a mobile app.

The video below is an animation of how the Lutz Pathfinder pods will look in action and there is also an introductory video about the project available to view.

Source: Transport Systems Catapult, RDM

Transport Systems Catapult 'LUTZ Pathfinder' driverless pod

View gallery - 18 images
4 comments
Martin Winlow
They must have VERY wide pavements in MK!
JPAR
Ironic that this is being tested in a 'new town' that was built in the 1960s specifically designed to accommodate the automobile.
Stephen N Russell
Take pods (later) to test in London, Portsmouth, Brighton Beach & Paris Fr, NYC, Denver CO, LA CA etc Be huge demand for alone in Urban areas. Mass produce pods.
Chris Flynn
Don't want to sound negative and its easy to be critical, we dont know the practical working restrictions / budget etc, but our reaction on seeing this at championed by Innovate UK : The design challenge has been around for nearly 50 Years personally I don't think this champions UK Design innovation at all. Yes the Tech is clever but this is not deployed in a World Leading Design. We would have loved to work on something like this to create a vehicle that people love, with the potential to become a classic.. The Lutz unfortunately lacks any of the qualities of good Transport design.