Local Authorities and regional transport operators will study how self-driving vehicle technology can improve local transport in remote, rural, and urban areas, as they are awarded a share of £1.3 million in joint UK government and industry funding to study the feasibility of self-driving mass transit solutions across the UK.
Northumberland, Solihull, Inverness and the Isle of Skye are some of the rural areas that will benefit from £1.3 million in funding for six projects.
Studies will look into how self-driving vehicle technology could be cheaper, emit less carbon, and increase transport safety and security.
The grants, part of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles’ Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility programme, will help local places to build evidence on utilising emerging transport technologies to connect underserved communities to employment centres, education opportunities, and healthcare services.
The projects add to nearly £850,000 of previous joint government and industry funding awarded to four feasibility studies looking into potential routes where automated vehicles could operate exclusively from other traffic, to relieve congestion on the A414 through Hertfordshire and Essex, parts of Eastern Cambridge, Birmingham and Solihull, and Milton Keynes.
Self-driving vehicles could revolutionise public transport and passenger travel, especially for those who don’t drive, better connect rural communities and reduce road collisions caused by human error.
The joint government and industry funding winners are:
Autonomous Healthlink (Northumberland)
The project will study the feasibility of a zero emission self-driving system on a segregated route between Seaton Delaval Station to the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington. The study will aim to increase accessibility to the hospital to support the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s plan to develop the site and increase patient services.
- Partners: Milestone Transport Planning Limited (Lead), Dromos Mobility Limited, Pegasus Planning Group Limited, Newcastle University
- Grant Awarded: £155,911
Blythe Rural Automated Vehicle Operations (West Midlands)
The project will study the feasibility of a shuttle service utilising two different self-driving vehicle technologies on a short hop of the Strategic Road Network on the M42, and within the Midlands Future Mobility initiative . The route will connect Blythe Valley Business Park to the UK Central Hub (Arden Cross HS2 interchange, Birmingham International Airport and Railway station). The outcomes from the study could inform self-driving mobility challenges nationwide.
- Partners: Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council (Lead), Aurrigo, Syselek (UK) Ltd, Liftango Ltd, ZF Services UK Limited, West Midlands Combined Authority, National Highways, WMG
- Grant awarded: £197,664
Commercialising Connected and Automated Vehicle Services in the Scottish Highlands and Islands (Inverness and Isle of Skye)
The project will study the commercial potential of a self-driving vehicle service in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. The service will link Inverness College University of the Highlands and Islands Campus to key locations in Inverness and connect ferry passengers to public transport at Uig Pier on the Isle of Skye.
- Partners: University of Glasgow (Lead), Aurrigo, The Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership, Darwin Innovation Group Ltd, Highland Country Buses Ltd.
- Grant awarded: £160,443
Dromos Connected and Automated System (Bolton)
This project will study the feasibility of an on-demand, 24/7 self-driving system running on a decommissioned railway corridor connecting the Bolton Transport Interchange to the Royal Bolton Hospital. It will consider the potential to expand and integrate the service through infrastructure and mobility projects.
- Partners: Dromos Mobility Limited (Lead), Transport for Greater Manchester Limited, Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council.
- Grant awarded: £199,760
HertsLynx Connected and Automated Mobility On-Demand (Hertfordshire)
This project will study a self-driving service using on demand responsive transport technology serving passengers in the Maylands Business Park region, containing market leaders in logistics and distribution with more than 650 businesses that employ over 20,000 people. The routes will connect Maylands to Harpenden Station and St Albans.
- Partners: Sustainicity Ltd (Lead), Siemens Mobility, University of Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire County Council
- Grant awarded: £115,748
Integrated Mixed Traffic Mobility for Hertfordshire Essex Rapid Transit (Hertfordshire)
This project extends a study examining the feasibility of Dedicated Driverless Spaces for articulated buses running on segregated routes and public roads of the Hertfordshire Essex Rapid Transit network. The route will link Watford and St Albans town centres.
- Partners: City Science Corporation Limited (Lead), StreetDrone, Hertfordshire County Council, England’s Economic Heartland.
- Grant awarded: £134,984