The alarm wakes me, and I get out of bed. My smartphone reminds me that today is Friday, 27th June 2025: 8 years to the day since transport was revolutionised at the prestigious and historic MCAV event, aptly titled ‘the future of transport.’ I am then reminded to meet Rich, Rose and Emma later on for the annual celebrations. After a quick shower and some breakfast, I call a POD which arrives to pick me up within 10 minutes.
Climbing aboard the POD, I switch on my tablet to begin work for the day. Within our POD of 8 passengers, I decide to occupy a free seat next to my friend Catherine who is sat in a wheelchair. Catherine leaves for work at a similar time to me, and we enjoy catching up most mornings. She is a chef at one of the biggest restaurants in town, but travels in from the suburbs due to the extortionate city prices of houses in the city centre. Word has it that house prices are due to rise in the suburbs soon; as there are no longer any travel restrictions for people commuting into the city, life in the suburbs is less problematic.
Travel in general has become much easier since the driverless revolution of 2017, and I enjoy sitting back and observing the outside world (when I am not working), sat aboard the POD’s that now transport people around Britain. The ‘Plug and Play’ Conigital sensors tell us that the air is free of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide – a statement backed up by the glorious sunshine beaming down on the POD like a spotlight in a theatre. Today, as with every day, POD’s play the lead role in almost everyone’s life.
As we approach the city centre, we have not slowed down once. We regularly drive within 6-foot of the next POD, even at speeds of 50 miles per hour, which took some getting used to! It amazes me that we used to waste time and energy being stuck in traffic getting angry and stressed. Today – even when waiting at traffic signals – we can work or relax within a community of commuters who enjoy talking to one another and we have a lot in common. It’s crazy to think that just a few years ago, we’d have been driving in separate vehicles. We were missing out on so much!
I arrive in the office, completely up to date with what’s going on in the business, and knowing exactly what I need to do during the day. One of the giant POD’s has been requested and is due to arrive at 3pm with some of the stock we need to make some new alarms for the hospitals we serve. We design and manufacture nurse call alarms for hospitals and nursing homes, and transport is very important to us as we send products regularly.
Since 2017, our transport costs and, therefore, the price we sell alarms to the NHS, has reduced significantly – helping us to serve the public sector. We receive a monthly invoice which is rarely more than £20 per month, despite us delivering daily. As we book deliveries, our tab increases – this can be viewed via the MCAV POD App, so that we can see what we are spending whenever we want. However, we rarely need to check this: as there are no fuel costs (POD’s automatically charge when they are not working), driver costs, or taxation costs, PODs operate very cheaply and are due to become even cheaper as the technology improves.
Not only are transport costs minimal, but collection times can be completely trusted. When a POD says it will arrive at 3pm, it will arrive then! I can even track its progress on the MCAV POD App if I am concerned (this rarely happens!) Before the driverless revolution, it seems to me that transport was taken for granted a little too much. Now that it operates so efficiently, it is respected a lot more and people seem generally happier in themselves. They are not stressed when travelling to work, nor do they panic about collections during office hours.
Today we are due to meet with one of the biggest NHS Trusts in the Midlands. Accompanying me is the CEO, who greets me before we head out to our special business POD, booked earlier on through the MCAV POD App. No doubt he will want to run through our presentation prior to the meeting, so I have saved the latest version on my USB stick. As we enter the business POD (specially reserved for our business alone), I plug in the stick and my presentation appears on the screen. Talking him through the speech, he changes at least 5 of the slides before we arrive, but he is generally happy about the content. I reflect on what would have happened if the slides had been his way to begin with; I am convinced he would still have changed them!! Having the technology to edit them in the POD makes things so much easier!
However, as we approach the NHS trust’s head office, the POD unexpectedly slows down. “what is happening?” calls Eric (our CEO) but as there is no driver, nobody can hear him but me! The POD then swiftly moves to the left and we are despatched to the side of the POD like we have been shoved! The mandatory seatbelts have, no doubt saved our lives, but what is happening? I have never experienced anything like this in a POD before! Looking out of the window, other PODS are repeating the same action. Will we be late for our meeting? Will we ever get out of our POD???
To be continued …
By Neil Phipps
Photo by Manoj Prasad