The pilot, which started at the end of May in Cambridge, is part of an Innovate UK and Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV)-backed project, working to explore how autonomous technology could be used on the public transport network.
Led by Aurrigo with Greater Cambridge Partnership and Smart Cambridge, the trial will see three autonomous shuttles take passengers from the Madingley Road Park and Ride site to and around the University of Cambridge’s West Campus.
It is anticipated that passengers involved in the project will be able to use an Aurrigo app, enabling them to be picked-up at a number of locations across the two-mile route.
“This is another major milestone in the journey towards making autonomous vehicles a reality on our roads,” explained David Keene, chief executive officer of Aurrigo.
“We’ve completed successful trials in city centres, in retirement complexes and at major golf tournaments, but this is the first time these vehicles will be sharing the route with everyday traffic.
“The shuttles, which have been designed and manufactured at our Advanced Engineering Centre in Coventry, will operate the 20-minute journey around the West Cambridge route.
“They will run autonomously for the majority of the route using our in-house developed Auto-Stack driving software and the latest lidar and camera technology to identify potential hazards as they move around.”
“Our technology will help provide new transport solutions for city centres, shopping and care facilities, airports and heritage sites. The trial in Cambridge is the next step in proving it.”
The Aurrigo Auto-Shuttle has a lightweight composite frame, is powered by a 22kW electric motor and is able to cover a range of over 120 miles. Each shuttle can sit up to 10 people, once Covid-19 social distancing is relaxed. This includes space for wheelchair users that can access the vehicle via an automatically deployed ramp.
Rachel Maclean, minister for the future of transport, launched the trial by taking the first official journey. She said: “Self-driving vehicles present a number of opportunities for the UK, from providing safer, greener and more reliable transport services to creating tens of thousands of well-paid and skilled jobs across the nation.“This project is hugely exciting and is an example of how self-driving vehicles could make it easier for people to travel on the UK’s future public transport network.”