Autonomous Vehicles - Future Transport

Autonomous Vehicles - Future Transport 

Cambridge is among one of the first smart cities in the UK to trial autonomous vehicles – investigating the feasibility of the technology being used as part of a public transport service in the future.

Self-driving shuttles that are set to transform the way people travel have arrived in Cambridge at the Madingley Road Park & Ride site.

The first Aurrigo autonomous shuttle arrived in Cambridge at the end of October 2020.

In April 2021, the team were able to return to the site after lockdown and the first shuttle started its engineering trial – mapping a route from the Park & Ride around the University of Cambridge’s West Cambridge campus

A grey, black, and white minibus style autonomous shuttle

A second shuttle has now arrived (May 2021) and a third is due during June before selected passengers are invited on board to take a trial journey in the vehicle.

The trial is part of a government-funded project led by the Greater Cambridge Partnership, Smart Cambridge and engineering firm Aurrigo Driverless Technology to look at how autonomous technology could be used on the public transport network. Find out more about the background to this project further down the page.

Want to join us on board?

If you’d be interested in joining us for the passenger trials in June 2021 visit this Eventbrite page to make your booking. 

Please note that the trials will take place during weekdays in June.

Background to the project:

In February 2018, a consortium made up of Coventry-based engineering firm Aurrigo Driverless Technology (the autonomous vehicle division of RDM Group) and Smart Cambridge, a workstream of the Greater Cambridge Partnership, was awarded Government funding from the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), and Innovate UK, the Government’s innovation agency, in support of the £3.2m project to develop trial vehicles.

Aurrigo was tasked with developing a number of self-driving shuttles which could potentially be trialled on a southern section of the existing Guided Busway, when ordinary buses weren’t running. The initial out-of-hours trial service was planned to run between the Trumpington Park & Ride site and Cambridge Railway Station via the Cambridge Biomedical Campus site.

Following COVID-19 disruptions the project was refocused away from the Busway and onto the University’s West Cambridge site – where no modifications to the vehicle or built environment will be needed to run the trial.

The success of these trials will provide knowledge and experience of self-driving vehicles in a real-world environment, meaning that they could be rolled-out elsewhere around Greater Cambridge in the future, for example, to link some of the science and business campuses to each other or to rural travel hubs.

Further reading:

To help shape the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) public transport strategy over a 10-year period, a report was prepared in April 2020 for the GCP by Professor John Miles of the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering.

The purpose of the work was to take a forward look at the opportunities and barriers related to the use of connected, autonomous, vehicles within the public transport system for Greater Cambridge. The work took note of the changes in public perception, regulatory environment, and commercial models which are now beginning to evolve. Read or download the report.

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