Could self-driving pods be the future of Weston?
- Credit: Weston College
North Somerset Council has played down the possibility of autonomous pods becoming a regular feature on Weston's seafront after a positive showing during the Future Tech Weston event.
Held on the Italian Gardens, the three-day event showcased how technology can impact Weston residents in their everyday lives and careers - with more than 1,000 residents testing Westfield's transport pod.
Weston College staged the event and its principal, Dr Paul Phillips, expressed how important it was to show a possible glimpse into the town's future.
He said: “We were pleased to host ‘Future Tech Weston’, and it was exciting to see what the future of transport might look like in Weston.
“We believe that it is important to be promoting aspects such as future green technology and showcase the exciting career opportunities there are for our communities.
“I would also like to mention how proud I am of our computing learners, who have worked closely with Westfield on the coding and the development of Westfield’s autonomous vehicles – something I really enjoyed testing out.”
Westfield Technology Group's autonomous vehicles were the main attraction of the event, with a transport pod, street sweeper as well as classic Porsche-style car.
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The transportation pod shuttled more than 1,000 passengers along the seafront during its demonstrations and could be considered as transport on the promenade, according to the director of the West of England Institute of Technology.
Claire Arbery told the Mercury: "We will be gathering feedback from the general public on what they would like to see next for the pod.
"It could be used to allow passengers to travel the promenade, to shuttle people from the station to key locations in the town.
"There are so many applications for the pod, the general public will come up with better suggestions than me."
The council's executive for neighbourhoods and community services attended the Future Tech Weston event but believes the cost of autonomous pods would be too great for Weston.
Cllr Mike Solomon said: "The cost I believe would be prohibitive and I still favour a good old fashioned electric land train.
"Tech is important but people still have a place in our tourism industry. I can see the future of tech in litter collection and enforcement, dog fouling and other antisocial issues and our new CCTV setup is a prime example of the future of tech combined with people."