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 new trial is underway to test out how Connected Autonomous Vehicles might be integrated into the borough’s transport network in the future.
Securing funds from the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, Solihull Council has become the first local authority in the country to purchase its very own fully electric autonomous shuttle from Coventry-based Aurrigo, which it will initially be trialling at the NEC over the next four weeks.
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. A safety operator will be on-board at all times, who will have the ability to take control of the shuttle if required.
The success of this initial trial will provide knowledge and experience of self-driving vehicles in a real-world environment, meaning that they could be rolled-out elsewhere in Solihull in the future.
Ken Hawkins, 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.
“Alongside the obvious environmental benefits, this is an excellent example of how smart technology could be used to cut congestion and improve public transport.
“The results of our trials will provide learning on future mobility services and highway infrastructure design across all future development sites within Solihull and the wider region, including integration with the HS2 Interchange at Arden Cross.”