A driver-less vehicle briefly shared the road with regular cars in Cambridge. It was the UK’s first-ever test run of an autonomous shuttle carrying passengers driving among normal traffic. The trial aimed to assess if such technology could join the public transportation network someday.
The project is a collaboration between Aurrigo, Smart Cambridge, and the Greater Cambridge Partnership, with support from the Centre for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles and the Government’s Innovate UK.
David Keene, Aurrigo’s chief executive officer, said:
This is another major milestone in the journey towards making autonomous vehicles a reality on our roads. Our technology will help provide new transport solutions for city centers, shopping and care facilities, airports, and heritage sites. The trial in Cambridge is the next step in proving it.
The 10-seater autonomous vehicle, created by Coventry-based engineering firm Aurrigo, took a 20-minute journey around the University of Cambridge’s West Cambridge campus. Safety operators were on board during the trial run to regain manual control of the shuttle at any time if required. Further passenger trials are planned for June.
Dr. Nik Johnson, the mayor of Greater Cambridgeshire, said:
It is exhilarating 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.
The fully electric shuttle is designed to move at a maximum of 20mph, with a range of 100 miles.
Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said the project is “hugely exciting.” She was one of the passengers on board.
Self-driving vehicles present several 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.
Last year, Japan approved level 3 autonomous cars, and Honda was the first to receive a permit. And in Norway, they’ve got autonomous ferries shuttling people back and forth across the canal in Trondheim. Meanwhile, in Finland, they’re trialing autonomous street sweepers in Helsinki. These are only a few of the growing number of driver-less technology stories making headlines these days.