A state-of-the-art self-driving shuttle will take to the roads around Birmingham Airport, transporting passengers, as part of ground-breaking trials getting underway in Solihull.
This is the latest phase in a Solihull Council-led project which aims to test out how Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) might be integrated into the borough’s transport network.
Last year, Solihull Council became the first local authority in the UK to purchase its own fully electric autonomous shuttle, using a grant from the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP). Designed and manufactured by Coventry’s Aurrigo, the futuristic looking Auto-Shuttle can carry up to ten passengers and uses a suite of sensors, including LiDAR, to understand its surroundings and move around safely.
The zero emissions self-driving shuttle was demonstrated at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) last autumn, where it operated autonomously on Solihull roads for the first time, whilst carrying passengers along a pre-mapped section of Pendigo Way.
In this latest deployment the shuttle will be used to transport passengers around a longer and much more complex route at Birmingham Airport while again interacting with other road users. The trial route will provide airport staff with a new temporary service linking the Departures entrance and Diamond House to Car Park 5. For the purposes of testing, the shuttle will be limited to a top speed of 20mph. In line with current legislation a safety operator will be onboard at all times, capable of taking control of the shuttle at any point if required. As well as airport staff the passenger trials will also be open to members of the public who want to experience one of the first fully self-driving shuttles in the UK.
“Autonomous technology promises enormous benefits to airports and the service companies that support them, with the potential to transform the way we work and improve efficiency and safety, for passengers, staff and other airport users.
“We are really excited to be working with Solihull Council on this trial, which will provide us with invaluable insight into how we can start to safely incorporate CAVs into our vehicle fleet. This trial of fully electric vehicles, and testing their capabilities on site, is making sure we are working towards our net zero carbon target by 2033, ”said Birmingham Airport chief executive Nick Barton.
The CAV will be running at Birmingham Airport over the next six weeks.