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Aurrigo Autonomous Shuttle trials begin in Cambridge

Engineering trials of an autonomous shuttle have started in Cambridge.

The first Aurrigo Autonomous Shuttle arrived in the city at the end of October, with a second delivered last week.

Aurrigo’s autonomous shuttle
Aurrigo’s autonomous shuttle

Following the team’s return to site after lockdown, work has started on engineering trials by mapping the test route from Madingley Road Park & Ride around the University of Cambridge’s West Cambridge campus. The second shuttle has also begun mapping the route. Selected passengers will be invited on board the shuttle by the project team in June.

The trial is part of a government-funded project led by Smart Cambridge, a workstream of the Greater Cambridge Partnership, and engineering firm Aurrigo Driverless Technology. It is designed to look at how autonomous technology could be used on the public transport network.

If successful, the GCP will have evidence to consider when planning future transport schemes – which may mean self-driving vehicles could be rolled out elsewhere around Greater Cambridge in the future.

A GCP spokesperson said: “Autonomous vehicles are an exciting technology that could offer people a safe and reliable way to travel to the city centre and employment sites late at night or out of regular service hours in the future.

“These trials are part of the GCP’s ambitions to transform public transport and active travel across Greater Cambridge.”

The work of Smart Cambridge is supported by the Connecting Cambridgeshire digital connectivity programme, led by Cambridgeshire County Council, with investment from the GCP.

It is exploring how data, emerging technology and digital connectivity can be used to transform the way people live, work and travel in the Greater Cambridge area and beyond. The work supports the wider ambition of the GCP, which is investing in transport, housing and skills to facilitate sustainable economic growth in the region.

The rapidly evolving programme is looking at how the latest technologies can improve quality of life, sustainability and the economic strength of the area. Local councils, technology businesses, university researchers and partner organisations are working together to find smart ways to tackle urban challenges, such as transport and air quality.

When the programme was announced, Dr Richard Fairchild, operations director at Aurrigo, said: “We’re really excited to be bringing our autonomous vehicles to Cambridge and can’t wait to get started after the Covid-19 delays.

“This trial will showcase the power of the partnership of UK engineering companies and government support through Innovate UK to deliver world class products and services to both create a driverless transport option to benefit residents and secure the UK position on the world stage in autonomous technology.”

And Claire Ruskin, who chairs the GCP’s Smart working group, added: “Running good public transport 24/7 is very costly and we are finding ways to make it affordable for the future, so that we can help people find sustainable ways to make their daily journeys, to reduce both pollution and congestion.”

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