Milton Keynes (UK) is one of the four CoEXist city partners. The British city is using the experience it has acquired in deploying self driving vehicle technology in the city – through the project UK Autodrive which recently came to an end – to help develop urban use cases for the CoEXist technology partners to create the modelling and assessment tools of the future.
UK Autodrive, driverless vehicles in the UK
The UK Autodrive project was the largest of three projects to have emerged from the UK government’s ‘Introducing Driverless Cars’ competition in 2015, which had the aim of establishing the UK as a global hub for the development of autonomous vehicle technologies.
In addition to leading the way in developing and showcasing the latest technology, UK Autodrive has investigated other important aspects of automated driving – including safety and cyber-security, legal and insurance issues, public acceptance and customer interaction, and the potential business models for turning autonomous driving systems into a widespread reality.
Helping business, academic and government communities to take positive steps forward, the project has also delivered a number of papers and studies on the following topics:
- Public engagement / Feasibility studies: examining the significant implications and challenges of introducing autonomous vehicles from a technical, social and economic perspective.
- Legal and insurance: supporting thinking and develop the legal framework for the wider roll-out of autonomous mobility.
- Safety and security: exploring mass CAV deployment, identifying weaknesses in the operating system and infrastructure, and providing solutions.
Taking place in Milton Keynes, Coventry, and on the Horiba MIRA test track, UK Autodrive carried out a series of trials of increasing complexity which have demonstrated the functionality and potential of connected and self-driving cars. The programme also delivered a fleet of lightweight, autonomous ‘pods’ which have been designed to operate last-mile services in an urban environment. The pods have demonstrated how they could be used to provide a public transport service to residents of Milton Keynes.
Self-Driving PODS in Milton Keynes
October 2018 saw the conclusion of the UK Autodrive pod trials in Milton Keynes. The pods provided a crucial link to the autonomous and connected vehicles in the project’s grand finale, enabling the world’s first demonstration of multi-CAV vehicles completing an end-to-end journey in the UK.
The self-driving pods have been undergoing trials on pavements in Milton Keynes. As part of the UK Autodrive project, Milton Keynes Council has been working with Aurrigo to test out a new first/last mile transport solution for local people, shoppers and visitors to Milton Keynes.
Miles Garner, Sales and Marketing Director at Aurrigo, said: “The trial in Milton Keynes has proved we have advanced autonomous technology that works in a live public environment and pods that can provide that crucial first and last mile transport solution for towns and cities throughout the world.”
Up to 15 pods – capable of travelling up to 15 miles per hour and lasting up to 60 miles off one charge – have been operating in the city centre from Central Railway Station. There are plans for the pods to continue to operate in the city, with a service being offered to residents in the near future.
Brian Matthews, Head of Transport Innovation at Milton Keynes Council, also strongly involved in CoEXist commented: “We are thrilled to have seen the successful demonstration of the technology here in Milton Keynes. What we have seen is the potential for this technology to develop into a full blown public transport service. This is important to us because, we want to have the ability to provide first and last mile mobility options that can help people get about their business in an efficient and safe way, giving improved travel options for those who cannot drive or might find it difficult to use buses, cycles or have difficulty walking.”
To celebrate the end of the successful demonstration in Milton Keynes, the project organised a showcase event in October. CoEXist partner, Mikael Ivari from Gothenburg presented the CoEXist project and shared experiences with Self Driving Demonstrations from Gothenburg
As more research papers / studies will be published, these will be available for download on the UK Autodrive website, before the end of the year. These will cover technology scalability, Impact on congestion, Public attitudes and business case for L-SATS (pods) in city centre locations.