People are being invited to head to Brockhole visitor centre for a taste of the future and to have their say on using driverless, electric travel to get around the National Park.
Of the 19 million visitors that come to the Lake District each year, 89% travel by car – creating around a third of the National Park’s total carbon emissions.
And now state-of-the-art, self-driving vehicles are being considered as a sustainable transport alternative by the Lake District National Park Authority – to reduce congestion and pollution.
Emma Moody, the Authority’s Lead Adviser for Sustainable Transport says in future the PODs could offer eco-friendly on-demand car sharing and could provide an option for visitors’ ‘last mile’. Emma says there is a real opportunity for people to think about doing the last leg of their journey as sustainably as possible - from a transport hub or their Lake District base.
The POD is now available for people to see, in the grounds of Brockhole until Monday 31 May 2021, as Emma explains:
“We’d love to get people’s thoughts and ideas including - what sorts of journeys they would use a POD for, what speed they would be comfortable travelling at, and when this might be a common form of transport.
“The POD can be seen in the grounds and car park at Brockhole, and staff are on hand to talk through the experience every Wednesday to Sunday.
“PODs use a mixture of sensors, radar and AI to navigate crowded areas and to scan the area looking for information, acting as the 'eyes' of the car,” adds Emma.
Working with Westfield Technology Group, the Authority is exploring how electric pods could offer residents and visitors accessible and sustainable transport to reduce the need to drive and to cut carbon. Driverless PODs are already in use in other parts of the country.
The POD project at Brockhole is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as a part of a Low Carbon Lake District partnership. It is one of a number of new technologies being adopted and considered by the Authority to make their visitor centre operations more sustainable.
Last year (2020) a solar panel canopy was installed to power electric vehicle charging points and there are plans to use energy from the lake later this year. Brockhole, which has lake access, gardens and Treetop Treks, is one of the county’s most visited attractions.
People can find out more about the Brockhole POD and make their views known on line at: www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/pods
The POD will be at Brockhole, Lake District Visitor Centre, Windermere until Monday 31 May 2021.
Photo shows a visitor enjoying testing the new driverless pod at Brockhole on Windermere.