Designer of the Lutz and Pod Zero driverless vehicles and one of the UK’s leading forces in self-driving technology, the RDM Group, has been chosen to develop a new autonomous shuttle service in Cambridge in the UK.
Aurrigo, the dedicated autonomous vehicle division of RDM Group, has teamed up with the Smart Cambridge collaboration between Cambridgeshire Country Council and the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) to successfully bid for £3.2m (US$4.4m) of UK government funding to develop the innovative transport system.
The grant from the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) will be used to build and trial six 10-15 seater self-driving shuttles to operate on the southern section of the existing guided busway, initially for an out-of-hours service, when buses are not running.
The aim of the T-CABS (Trumpington to Cambridge Autonomous Busway Service) project is to explore the potential for CAVs to become part of Cambridge’s future transport network by building a small fleet of pods and use them to demonstrate a fare paying public service on the Cambridge Guided Busway.
The route will run between Trumpington Park and Ride and the city’s central railway station, via the strategically important Cambridge Biomedical Campus site, including Addenbrooke’s and Papworth Hospital and a host of leading life science companies.
Aurrigo has already started recruiting for the project, with up to 10 jobs being created to manage the project in Cambridge and the company’s Advanced Manufacturing Center in Coventry. Aurrigo’s autonomous shuttles will be designed and built to accommodate wheelchairs, mobility scooters and bicycles. The CAVs will run at 30-40mph (48-64km/h) and can operate for up to 100 miles (160km) on just one charge.
The first shuttle will be engineered and ready for prototype testing by April 2019, with the first passengers set to step on board in summer 2020. If successful, self-driving vehicles could then be rolled-out elsewhere in the Greater Cambridge area, such as to link some of the science and business campuses to each other or to rural travel hubs.
“This will be a very big year for Aurrigo, with other autonomous trials using our pods also set to start in Australia, Canada and the USA,” explained Dr Richard Fairchild, director of autonomous mobility program at Aurrigo.
“Working in partnership with Smart Cambridge, we will be creating a cost-effective and efficient service that will benefit shift workers, weekend shoppers and revelers in the city. The guided busway is segregated from general traffic and, therefore, offers a unique opportunity to safely trial autonomous vehicles running past major residential and employment sites.”