Pods swarm like bees for world-first demonstration

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Autonomous pods are now able to swarm together thanks to research by WMG at the UK’s University of Warwick, in partnership with Aurrigo and Milton Keynes Council.

The pods are designed for pedestrian areas and shared spaces, with public transport being used on highways and pods for first- and last-mile services.

The ultimate plan is to use an app to hail a pod or a platoon of pods if traveling in a group.

Researchers at WMG integrated swarm intelligence into the pods by implementing swarming skills typically used by birds and insects.

The university says that swarming means the pods can schedule themselves into a platoon, following each other when possible to minimize the number of individual vehicle movements and the need for a supervisor per pod.

Dr Roger Woodman, associate professor in human factors at WMG, said, “The swarm algorithm has been tested and is proven to be effective and reliable. The ability to make pods ‘swarm’ together like a group of bees or birds, means they can coordinate with each other, bringing them one step closer to our streets.”

Simon Brewerton, chief technology officer of Aurrigo, said, “The swarming technology is very exciting and has the potential to operate large fleets of remotely supervised autonomous vehicles in a safe and scalable way. Interest in this will be huge.”

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