A driverless pod

Driverless Pods

Between 2019 and 2021 we worked with Westfield Technology Group to explore how Connected and Autonomous Vehicles could offer residents and visitors accessible and sustainable transport to reduce the need to drive and to cut carbon.

The live demonstration finished at the end of May 2021, but you can find out more about it below.

This project was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as a part of our Low Carbon Lake District programme.

See more information about sustainable travel in the Lake District

Watch our video below.

FAQs about driverless pods:

Why is this important to the Lake District National Park?

The Lake District National Park works to protect and maintain the National Park environment whilst also encouraging visitors to enjoy the area. This trial is part of wider work to reduce carbon emissions and enable people to travel sustainably. This sustainable travel includes rail, bus, lake cruises cycling and walking but we are also exploring new technologies that allow people to access the National Park. The PODs are electric and in future will be on-demand, offering a sustainable, flexible and convenient mobility solution. This trial is to see how we could take advantage of this technology to reduce carbon emissions, enable people to get around the Lake District without a car and improve the quality of life for people that live here and the 19 million visitors who come here every year.

How could the PODs reduce traffic?

The PODs can be shared by multiple passengers, reducing the need to rely solely on a privately-owned vehicle, and will help us to move from a world where people feel they need to own a car to one of shared transport, saving road and parking space. The PODs operate on an on-demand basis, offering a reliable and convenient mobility option for travellers. Whilst it is operating fixed routes for this trial, the technology is being developed to enable them to be called from a smartphone and a destination chosen. The POD can also connect up with other vehicles to work in a ‘virtual train’ to minimise congestion and improve efficiencies of aero dynamics.

What is Low Carbon Lake District?

For the past 10 years the Lake District National Park have been working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which lead to climate change. We are aiming toward Net Zero Carbon by 2037. As part of this we are delivering this Low Carbon Lake District, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. As well as the POD this project also contributed towards the reconnection of the four mile trail between Keswick and Threlkeld, and developing renewable energy supplies and energy efficiency at Brockhole.

What is an automated vehicle?

A vehicle which uses a range of advanced systems to automate some, or all, of the driving task. At present, there are fully automated vehicles that operate in segregated environments (e.g. the Docklands Light Railway. Heathrow POD shuttle) and there are road vehicles that have some degree of automation (e.g. adaptive cruise control; lane keeping assist). In time, we anticipate these technologies will evolve to create vehicles capable of operating with no driver control input. There are many potential benefits to this including improved safety, efficiency and accessibility of transport but research is required to establish the scale of these benefits.

How does it detect people, animals or objects that move in front of it?

If an object, animal or person moves in front of the POD it will be detected and the vehicle will slow down or stop. The computers on-board can ensure the vehicle brakes faster and anticipates changes in road conditions that are imperceptible to the human eye. Automated vehicles are expected to be much safer for both users and non-users than conventional vehicles, which is one of the main reasons the government is supporting their introduction.

How is the POD powered?

The POD includes a 48v battery and the vehicle range is approximately 100km per charge. We hope to be able to charge the vehicles at Brockhole using renewable energy from the solar canopies.

Where can I find more detailed information about the pods?

The PODs are made by Westfield Technology Group who have detailed information about the production and operation of the PODs.

European Structural and Investment Funds

Westfield Technology Group