British autonomous vehicle company Aurrigo has officially begun trials of its Auto-Shuttle in the English city of Cambridge, which will play host to three of the company’s 10-seat autonomous shuttle vehicles in a country first test of autonomous driving.
The Coventry-based developer announced last week that three of its Auto-Shuttles will begin trials in Cambridge and will make Aurrigo the first firm in the UK 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.
“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 trials will take passengers along a relatively short and simple route, from the Madingley Road Park and Ride to and around the University of Cambridge’s West Campus – a distance of approximately 1 kilometre.
“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.”
“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.”
Aurrigo’s Auto-Shuttle is a 10-seat autonomous shuttle vehicle that is powered by a 22kW electric motor and a 47kWh battery, boasting a range of 200-kilometres (124-miles).
Built with high strength composite material, creating a lightweight and efficient vehicle, the Auto-Shuttle also comes with wheelchair ramp accessibility and safe spacing for 10 people (once COVID restrictions are relaxed).
The Auto-Shuttle trial is part of an Innovate UK and Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV)-backed project, led by Aurrigo, along with Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) and Smart Cambridge, designed to explore how autonomous technology can be integrated into the public transport network.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) and Smart Cambridge-led trials will support research into potential driverless shuttle services that will eventually link the city’s other research campuses with the rail stations and Park & Ride sites.
These trials will also explore how smart technology can be used to help reduce congestion and improve public transport – especially for shift workers, weekend shoppers, and partygoers.
“It is very exciting to see these vehicles working on real roads here as another first in Cambridge,” said Claire Ruskin, Director of Cambridge Network and business representative on the GCP Executive Board. These shuttles could be used on demand all day and night, every day of the year – which is unaffordable with our existing public transport.
— Smart Cambridge (@smartcamb) May 27, 2021
Inaugurating the first official journey of the Auto-Shuttle was Rachel Maclean, the UK’s Minister for the Future of Transport.
“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 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.”