Airport’s “Ultra POD” technology joins TRL-led GATEway driverless car pilot in Greenwich Three British companies are working in collaboration to develop new iconic automated pods for public trials this summer. Using entirely British engineering and software capabilities, Westfield Sportscars, Heathrow Enterprises and Oxbotica will develop pods capable of operating fully autonomously and safely on the streets of London, as part of the GATEway driverless car project taking place in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

The three companies, who have joined the GATEway project as consortium members, will be working together to develop the existing Ultra PODS currently in service at Heathrow Airport. Operating at Terminal 5 for nearly five years, these pods have already carried 1.5m passengers and completed 3m kilometres of fully automated operation. Led by Westfield Sportcars, these pods will now be adapted to navigate the streets of Greenwich without the need for dedicated tracks.

The addition of the new consortium members brings a wealth of expertise to the GATEway project. Westfield will act as the vehicle integrator and manufacturer of the pods, responsible for the design and testing of the vehicles and ensuring that, where possible, they are manufactured in accordance with the current type approval requirements. Heathrow Enterprises will be responsible for vehicle software engineering, while Oxbotica will be deploying its vertically integrated autonomy solution, which includes mapping, localisation, perception and trajectory planning, to enable the safe operation of fully driverless shuttles in Greenwich. It will also implement an innovative cloud-based shuttle management system, enabling the shuttles to operate as part of a synchronised, self-governing ecosystem, complete with smartphone booking applications, monitoring and reporting.

Professor Nick Reed, Academy Director at TRL and Technical Director for GATEway commented; “The addition of three prominent and respected British organisations to the GATEway consortium further strengthens the UK’s position as a leader in autonomous technologies. Each company brings a great deal of experience to the project which will prove valuable in helping us to understand how the public and industry will adapt to the use of automated vehicles in the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab test environment in Greenwich. If the trials prove successful, we expect these iconic vehicles to become a familiar sight in many cities around the world.”

Julian Turner, CEO at Westfield Sportscars added: “We’re really pleased to be a part of the GATEway consortium and are looking forward to bringing our innovative, lightweight, technology to a well-known and tried and tested platform. As well as a 100% British supply chain, we can bring a number of benefits to the GATEway project, including knowledge of type approval processes and advanced pure electric race and road car technology that will not only ensure the shuttle trials are a success, but help put Greenwich and the UK at the forefront of automated mobility”.

Steve Chambers, Director of Engineering and Asset Management at Heathrow said: “The GATEway project is a fantastic opportunity to build upon the Heathrow POD concept, our unique zero-emission transport system between Terminal 5 and business car park, which has already removed 70,000 bus journeys a year from Heathrow roads and the equivalent of 100 tonnes of CO2 a year.”

The GATEway project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) is an £8 million project jointly funded by Innovate UK and industry. Led by TRL, which has over 50 years’ of experience in vehicle automation, the project will investigate public perception, reaction and engagement with a range of different types of automated vehicles.

The shuttle trial, which is one of three automated vehicle tests within the GATEway project, will investigate public acceptance of automated shuttle vehicles within the urban mobility landscape. Other trials set to take place in the project will focus on automated deliveries.

For more information about the project visit or follow @GATEway_TRL.



About the GATEway Project

GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) is an £8m project, jointly funded by Innovate UK, and industry that aims to understand and overcome the technical, legal and societal barriers of implementing automated vehicles in an urban environment.

Taking place in Greenwich, one of the UK’s leading smart cities, the project will trial and validate a series of different use cases for automated vehicles, including driverless shuttles, autonomous valet parking and automated urban deliveries. By understanding public perception, reaction and engagement with the vehicles the trials will help enable and encourage the integration of automated transport within a smart city environment.

Results will help both industry and policymakers understand the implications of driverless vehicles and deliver a safe and validated test environment in the UK, driving job creation and investment in a rapidly emerging technology area.

The GATEway project consortium is led by TRL and includes the Royal Borough of Greenwich, RSA Insurance Group, Telefonica O2, Shell, GOBOTiX Ltd, Commonplace, the Royal College of Art and the University of Greenwich.

GATEway is one of several projects using the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab at Greenwich - an open, real world, test environment for connected and automated vehicles. See

About Westfield Sportscars Limited

Westfield Sportscars Limited is one of the UK's leading hand built sports car manufacturers that is British owned and family run. The company based in Kingswinford in the West Midlands, designs, manufactures, lovingly handcrafts and certifies self-assembly or Factory built sports cars for distribution over the globe. See

About Heathrow

Heathrow operates the UK’s busiest airport. The Heathrow Pods are driverless electric 4 seat shuttles providing a transfer service between Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and the business car parking. Since 2011, the 21 Pods have carried 1.5M passengers and completed over 3 Million autonomous kilometers. Heathrow will be providing the software support for the project. See

About Oxbotica

A spin-off from Oxford University’s Mobile Robotics Group, Oxbotica has a portfolio of technology solutions from over 130 man-years of research that enables its customers to access, customise and integrate world-leading mobile autonomy IP into their own products. The technology available in Oxbotica’s IP portfolio underpins the Oxford RobotCar -- the UK’s first autonomous car approved for public trials -- and lies at the heart of the LUTZ and UK Autodrive projects bringing 40 autonomous pods to the pavements of Milton Keynes, in addition to these shuttles in Greenwich. See

About TRL

TRL, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory, provides independent and impartial world-class research, consultancy, testing and certification for all aspects of transport. Commercially independent and with more than 80 years of knowledge and experience embedded in its history, TRL’s work encompasses a breadth of areas that shape and form today’s transport decisions including: safety, highway engineering and maintenance, sustainability, attitudes and behaviours, simulation and modelling, climate change, engineering, product development, standards and specifications. The company’s expertise is also increasingly being transferred successfully to new sectors including autonomous vehicles, smart cities and energy. TRL has more than 1,000 customers across 145 countries worldwide. See

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