Page last updated at 06:41 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The driverless taxi of the future

Josie d'Arby with the driverless pod

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Welcome to the shape of things to come - the driverless taxi. The world's first driverless taxis are being installed at Heathrow Airport.

The futuristic vehicles will carry passengers from the business car park into Terminal Five in less than five minutes.

The driverless taxi, or personal rapid transit, drives itself around a network of guideways using a combination of systems including laser sensors and computer controls.

The electric vehicles look a bit like the futuristic transport pods used in James Bond movies.

They can carry up to four passengers and their luggage, gently accelerating up to a speed of 25mph (40kph).

The driverless cars are the brainchild of Professor Martin Lowson from Bristol who has been developing the system for 15 years.

He sees it as a possible solution to our congested city centres.

There is still a lot of work to be done before the vehicles are available to the public but the Heathrow system has just started testing with passengers.

BBC Inside Out TV presenter Josie d'Arby was the first member of the public to try out the Heathrow system.

Watch the full feature on BBC Inside Out West and London on Monday 30 November at 1930GMT on BBC One and nationwide on the BBC iPlayer.

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