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Driverless cars set for Shrewsbury town centre trial

By Aimee Jones | Shrewsbury | Transport | Published: | Last Updated:

Driverless vehicles could be on the roads of Shrewsbury town centre in six weeks time as part of a major experiment.

One of the pods which went on display in Shrewsbury last year

Shropshire Council has been looking into how autonomous vehicles could be used in the county town to relieve congestion and improve transport links.

Members have been working closely with Westfield Technology Group, which has designed and produced a self-driving 'pod' vehicle which uses sensors to detect road conditions and obstacles.

Councillor Simon Harris, deputy portfolio holder for highways and transport, has now revealed plans to trial them in Shrewsbury have taken a major step forward.

He said it is likely the pods will be on the road in the town centre this summer for a two-week trial.

"The Westfield project is moving forwards," he said.

"The pods could be on the road in six weeks time. We've worked a route out that picks people up at St Julian's Friars car park and takes them to Market Street in the town centre then brings them back on a loop."

Pictured with a pod vehicle are Councillor Simon Harris, Andy Begley, Councillor Steve Davenport, and Emma Murdock

Councillor Harris said the proposal is to tie it in with a planned closure of Wyle Cop.

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He is in talks with Shropshire Council's highways department to use the road while it is closed.

"We're hoping to use the pods on the road while it is closed for gas main works to keep people moving through the town," he said.

"It is aimed at people who are disabled or have sight problems but anyone who is anyone will be able to jump on a pod at the car park and experience what it is like to travel in a driverless vehicle."

The pods went on display in the town's Darwin Shopping Centre late last year and Councillor Harris said the feedback from the public was positive.

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Councillor Steve Davenport, portfolio holder for highways and transport, said a road closure is the perfect time for an experiment with the pods.

He added that the council needs to first get permission from West Mercia Police.

The pods were initially trialled on the roads within Ironbridge Power Station.

Last year Westfield, which is based in Kingswinford, near Dudley, revealed it is looking to build a manufacturing plant in Shropshire, bringing hundreds of new jobs.

Aimee Jones

By Aimee Jones
@aimeejones_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Shrewsbury office, covering Shrewsbury, North Shropshire and South Shropshire.

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