Sunday, 4 March 2018

Autonomous vehicles - £3.2m awarded for trial

This follows up my 17 October 2017 posting, and again uses information from Business Weekly (not, I admit, my go-to publication for Cambridge news...).

The government has recently announced awards totalling £22.4m to 22 connected and autonomous vehicle (CAVs) R&D projects, of which £3.2m is coming to Cambridge. This money will be used to build and trial six 10-15-seater self-driving shuttles to operate on the southern (Trumpington) section of the existing guided busway, initially for an out-of-hours service, when ordinary buses aren’t running.

The details are a little vague - at least in the published reports. Although one of the strengths of this section of the busway is - for the purposes of a trial - that it is segregated from general traffic, the trial is supposed to serve the Biomedical Campus, where busway vehicles share road space with hoi polloi. And emergency vehicles.

Prototypes are due to be tested in late summer 2019, with the first paying passengers boarding a year later. It's unclear if the first few months of public service are part of the trial (in which case funding is already guaranteed) or are to be part of the County Council's "transport" portfolio.

The vehicles will be developed by Aurrigo, part of the RDM Group. This follows the same company's involvement in the earlier trial using a 4-seater autonomous "pod".

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