Solihull trials electric, driverless public transport
Solihull has become one of the first places in the UK to see driverless vehicles take to its roads as part of new ground-breaking passenger trials.
A Council-led trial is getting underway to test out how Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) might be integrated into the borough’s transport network in the future.
Securing £250,000 from the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), Solihull Council has become the first Local Authority in the country to purchase its very own fully electric autonomous shuttle from Coventry-based Aurrigo, which it will initially be trialling at the NEC over the next four weeks.
"The region is at the cutting edge of the development of CAV technology and this real world trial offers an excellent opportunity to understand the role autonomous vehicles can play in our transport system," said Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands. "This technology has the potential to change the way we travel and will no doubt become a key part of our future transport system. On top of that, this emerging high-value sector in research and manufacturing is already playing an increasingly important role in the Green Industrial Revolution happening right here in the West Midlands."
This project forms part of the wider West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) funded UK Central investment programme, which is delivering a wide range of projects, from walking and cycling improvement schemes through to town centre redevelopment and builds on the establishment of the Midlands Future Mobility testbed.
The shuttle can carry up to eight passengers and uses a suite of sensors to understand its surroundings, allowing it to move around safely, interacting with live traffic with little or no operator input. For the purposes of the trial, in line with current UK legislation, a safety operator will be on-board at all times, who will have the ability to take control of the shuttle if required.
Those behind the project are encouraging anyone who wants to take part and experience one of the first fully self-driving shuttles in the UK to book a free ride.
The success of this initial trial will provide knowledge and experience of self-driving vehicles in a real-world environment, meaning that they could be rolled-out elsewhere in Solihull in the future.
The trial at the NEC will see the shuttle operate autonomously along a 1-mile pre-mapped section of Pendigo Way between Hall 5 and Resorts World.