Milton Keynes to put famous roundabouts to good use in driverless car trials

The world capital of roundabouts and concrete cows is set to be catapulted into the future, as the UK town of Milton Keynes will begin large-scale trials of driverless cars later this month.

Milton Keynes Council has teamed up with tech company Imperium Drive to begin the trials, which will allow people to order cars directly to them through an app.

The 'Fetch' car system enables vehicles to be controlled remotely and dropped off to drivers.

The council hopes that, if the trials are successful, driverless cars will become the norm within two years and be offered as a paid service for commuters at Milton Keynes train station.

"We've been working at this for a number of years. We want people to move away from single occupancy cars," said Brian Matthews, head of Transport Innovation at Milton Keynes Council.

"We're looking at a range of solutions not just these driverless cars, but also larger shutters using similar technology and four-seater pods that are completely autonomous."

Players and staff at MK Dons football club will also be taking part in the trials, with the squad's performance director claiming the driverless cars will play a key role in training during Covid-19.

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"The biggest thing at the moment is Covid, because we can't start putting players together in cars, particularly with the omicron variant being very contagious," said Simon Crampton.

"Our players and staff can now order a vehicle through the app that will arrive at the front of the stadium to take them to training," Crampton, the team's performance director, added.

Whether the driverless cars will be any better than humans at navigating Milton Keynes' famously confusing American-style road system remains to be seen.

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The trials are not the first time Milton Keynes has played host to futuristic technologies.

The iconic 'new town' is home to Bletchley Park. This is where the likes of Alan Turing and other top spies cracked the German Enigma code during World War II using one of the first computers, 'the Colossus'. This made it possible for the Allies to intercept Nazi messages and, ultimately, win the war.

Since then, Milton Keynes has become famous for its unique urban design, road traffic system, the Open University, and, of course, hundreds of roundabouts.

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