Aurrigo will claim another UK milestone in autonomous technology today when its Auto-Shuttles officially begin trials in Cambridge.
The company, which has been instrumental in the development of ‘first and last mile’ transport solutions, will become the first firm in the country to undertake testing of a custom-made autonomous vehicle capable of carrying passengers on a main road surrounded by other traffic, including cars, lorries, vans, bikes and pedestrians.
Able to seat 10 people outside of social distancing restrictions, the three shuttles will take passengers from the Madingley Road Park and Ride site to and around the University of Cambridge’s West Campus.
The trial is part of an Innovate UK and Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV)-backed project, led by Aurrigo with Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) and Smart Cambridge all working together to explore how autonomous technology could be used on the public transport network.
It is anticipated that passengers recruited for the project will be able to use an Aurrigo App that will allow them to be picked-up at a number of locations across the 2-mile route.
“This is another major milestone in the journey towards making autonomous vehicles a reality on our roads,” said 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.”
He continued: “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.”
With a range of more than 120 miles, the Aurrigo Auto-Shuttle is the world’s first conventionally driven electric and autonomous purpose-built vehicle, with its lightweight composite frame powered by a 22kW electric motor.
The external design is replicated inside, creating a safe environment for up to 10 people to sit once Covid-19 social distancing is relaxed. This includes space for wheelchair users that can access the vehicle via an automatically deployed ramp.
Trials in Cambridge had been halted by the pandemic, but with mapping now complete, it will be left to Rachel Maclean, Minister for the Future of Transport, to officially mark the start of public testing by taking the first official journey.
“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,” said Rachel Maclean MP.
“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.”