Midlands-made driverless vehicle tested in Solihull

Date posted: October 6, 2021
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A driverless vehicle with emerald green and white colouring

Solihull has become one of the first places in the UK to see driverless vehicles take to its roads with a Coventry-made autonomous bus.

Solihull Council has become the first local authority in the country to purchase its own fully-electric autonomous shuttle from Coventry-based Aurrigo, which it will initially be trialling at the NEC over the next month.

The trial aims to test out how connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs) might be integrated into the borough’s transport network in the future.

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, who will have the ability to take control if required.

The trial at the NEC will see the shuttle operate autonomously along a one-mile pre-mapped section of Pendigo Way between Hall 5 and Resorts World.

The project forms part of the wider West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) funded UK Central investment programme which is delivering a 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.

Councillor Ken Hawkins, Solihull Council’s cabinet portfolio holder for environment & infrastructure, said:

CAV technology has the potential revolutionise the way we get around our towns, cities and rural areas as well as transport goods.

This trial is all about looking at how we can practically and safely start to incorporate autonomous vehicles into our future transport infrastructure.

Already one of the best-connected destinations in the UK and Europe, the NEC is the perfect place to trial our shuttle and look at how it can be used to improve the first and last-mile passenger experience.

Ewa Truchanowicz, board director, Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), said:

It’s fantastic to see the fully electric autonomous vehicle operating at the NEC.

We allocated £250,000 from our Local Growth Fund into this Solihull Council-led trial as we recognise the huge potential for connected autonomous vehicles.

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