Driverless buses take to Cambridge’s roads in ‘ground-breaking’ trial
Cambridge is among 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.
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 £3.2milllion of Government funding from the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), and Innovate UK, the Government’s innovation agency, 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 been 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.
Claire Ruskin, director of Cambridge Network and the business representative on the GCP executive board, said: “It is very exciting to see these vehicles working on real roads here as another first in Cambridge.
“These shuttles can be used on demand all day and night, every day of the year – which is unaffordable with our existing public transport.”
“They are flexible and make good use of resources without needing much infrastructure.”
“As employment around Cambridge is 24/7 for many organisations – including our hospitals, emergency services, and many of our labs – we have been anticipating this new technology to see how real operation will help people get around.”
“This trial is part of wider plans by the Greater Cambridge Partnership to help the area work sustainably as it continues to deliver world-leading innovation for the UK.”
Cambridge Filmworks have partnered with Connecting Cambridgeshire to showcase this groundbreaking project.
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