The pods include two-seat for passengers, have a maximum speed of 15mph and will 'sense' the environment around them using a control system called Mercury.
Mercury was developed by the Mobile Robotics Group at Oxford University. It is an autonomous control system that uses cameras, radars and lasers to scan the surroundings for possible obstables such as people, bikes, kerbs and cars. The pods are electric-powered and work on pavements and pedestrianised areas.
Now the Mercury systems are installed public trials can be undertaken with the pods being driven manually using a steering wheel while they 'learn' their environment. It will also ensure that the pods comply with the Highway Code and insurance requirements.
Once completed the steering wheel will be removed and they will be autonomous with human support if required. The public trials will also take place in other cities with around 40 pods being introduced gradually towards the end of 2017.