The UK will start new trials of three self-driving electric shuttle buses in the city of Cambridge in June. The small-capacity shuttle will make a 20-minute journey of two miles between three points, including parts of the University of Cambridge.
The Auto-Shuttles, as they are called, were built by aurrigo and part of a joint venture between the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) and Smart Cambridge, and have already completed a preliminary round of driverless testing around the University of Cambridge̵
Aurrigo CEO David Keene said: “We’ve had successful trials in city centers but this is the first time these custom vehicles have shared the route with other traffic while carrying passengers. [It’s a] important milestone in the journey to realize autonomous vehicles on our roads.”
Although the buses do not have a driver, security officers will be on board to make sure everything runs smoothly. As with other electric vehicles, the shuttles have a variety of cameras, sensors and laser scanners equipped to help them better detect and navigate obstacles and hazards.
Claire Ruskin, director of Cambridge Network and company representative to the GCP, said: “These shuttles can be used on demand all day and night, every day of the year, which is prohibitively expensive with our existing public transport system. They are flexible and allow good use of resources without requiring much infrastructure Since employment around Cambridge is 24/7 for many organizations including our hospitals, emergency services and many of our labs, we have anticipated this new technology to see how people with disabilities real operation can move.”
The June test route will take passengers between Madingley Park and Ride, the West Cambridge campus and the Institute of Astronomy. Passengers recruited for the test can use the companion app that allows them to be picked up at a variety of location choices.