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PHOTO CAPTION: Lutz Pathfinder, self-driving, low-speed electric vehicle.

Britain Debuts First Self-Driving, Low-Speed Electric Vehicle

The two-passenger Lutz Pathfinder low-speed electric vehicle is designed to operate at 12 mph on the sidewalks of Britain, using an array of sensors to avoid running over people.

Published: 18-Feb-2015

As one wag put it, the Lutz Pathfinder, more closely resembles an errant airplane cockpit escape pod than an automobile, but being a car isn't its purpose: providing neighborhoods with self-driving, autonomous errand-runners is.

Electrically-driven with a operational endurance of up to eight hours on a single charge, the two-passenger vehicle is intended to operate on sidewalks and pedestrian walkways, starting on the postwar town of Milton Keynes, some 50 miles north of London. The Transportation Systems Catapult-developed vehicle uses a combination of radar, proximity sensor and cameras to detect and avoid obstacles. It's top speed is a seemingly leisurely 12 mph, but that still four times faster than a person typically walks. It's also about the same speed at which people ride bicycles.

The mission of the Pathfinder is to provide a locally-operated alternative to the automobile, with the goal being the ability to call one up when needed for running close-in trips, which would be especially handy for the elderly.

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