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 funds from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), Solihull Council has become the first local authority in the country to buy its own fully electric autonomous shuttle from Coventry-based Aurrigo.
The vehicle will initially be trialling at the NEC over the next four weeks.
The shuttle can carry up to eight passengers and uses 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.
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.
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. Check availability and book your ride here
The project forms part of the wider West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) funded UK Central investment programme and any organisations from around Solihull can make contact if they are interested in learning more about the technology and potentially host a trial themselves.
Further information is available here.
Councillor Ken Hawkins, cabinet portfolio holder for environment and 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.”