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Could driverless pods become a common sight on the streets of Canterbury?

Are driverless cars coming to Canterbury?

The city should introduce so-called “driverless pods”, says University of Kent business guru Richard Scase.

He believes the pods – which are about to be introduced in Swindon and Milton Keynes – could cure Canterbury’s traffic woes.

And Prof Scase says that the ideal time to introduce them would be as the city builds large housing developments on its outskirts.

In London firms experimenting with driverless pods are hoping to address something called the “last mile conundrum”, the distance between home and a transport hub.

It involves reaching a train, tube or bus station and hailing a pod with a mobile phone to be taken home on it.

The electric vehicles are designed to reduce congestion and pollution.

Noel Sharkey, emeritus professor of artificial intelligence, believes work still needs to be done on preparing driverless pods.

He said: “Autonomous vehicles present us with a great future opportunity to make our roads safer. But the technology is just not ready yet and needs to mature before it goes on the road.

“Too many mistakes and the public may turn its back on the technology.”

The government wants driverless cars to be in commercial use in the UK by 2021.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said: “We are working to make sure the UK remains one of the best places for self-driving vehicles, including updating our code of practice to support true self-driving trials.”

About a dozen separate trials have been run in the UK over the past three years. This month the public have been allowed to ride on driverless pods, with safety stewards, being trialled in Greenwich, south-east London, as part of the government-backed Gateway Project.

David Williams, technical director at the insurer Axa, which is involved in five UK trials, said: “This is the next logical step to delivering automated technology that has the potential to make our roads much safer.”

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