London to Have Driverless Trains in 2022

London's future driverless trains 1 photo
Photo: PriestmanGoode
The future is all about lazy people waiting for artificially intelligent machines to do most of their hard jobs. Whether we’re talking "driverless" drones that chase our ever move and film it at the same time, self-driving cars that will take you to work while you’re taking one last nap or even small boats that autonomously “swarm” offensively around hostile vessels. It was about time for people to take driverless trains into consideration.
London-based global travel and transport design consultancy company PriestmanGoode have recently announced they’re working with Transport for London on the design vision for the New Tube for London, the next generation deep level underground trains. Currently on display at a “New Tube for London” exhibition at King’s Cross St. Pancras Underground station through November 16, the designs were presented during an official unveiling having the town’s mayor invited.

These beautiful, air-cooled machines represent the best of British design and innovation,” said the mayor of London, Boris Johnson. Reports are that 250 of this trains will come into service from 2022, but what is truly impressive about the new design is they will function without a driver.

Autonomous, but not really

Featuring sleek interiors, air conditioning, walk-through design, digital screens to enable live updates, wider doors to facilitate quicker turnaround times at stations and increased capacity. According to the ones who designed it, natural finishes and materials in a palette of colors including charcoal, warm grey and oxblood were derived from looking at heritage and contemporary architecture and landmarks in London.

Everything sounds pretty promising, but the one thing we don’t really understand is how these 21st century trains will differ from the already existing ATO, which stands for automatic train operation. Even though these systems were created to be used on automated guideway transits and subways which are easier to ensure safety of humans, most subways agencies elect to maintain a driver (train operator) to mitigate risks associated with failures or emergencies.

Turns out we have about 8 years to figure this one out...

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