Aecom-led consortium tests driverless pods

19 July 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

An Aecom-led consortium is trialling driverless pods this week at a disused airfield.

The work is part of a scheme that will pave the way for the use of connected and autonomous vehicles to move people around airports, hospitals, business parks, shopping and tourist centres on trips of up to five miles.

The aim is for the vehicles to navigate safely in both pedestrian and on-road environments, known as ‘dual-mode’.

The closed test on a 2.5km runway at the disused Filton Airfield in north Bristol is the first of four trials under the pilot, which is being delivered by the Capri consortium that was awarded funding last year from Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV).

During the two-week trial the pods’ safety critical features are being assessed along with comfort testing.

The pods are set to make their first public appearance later this year when they will transport members of the public around The Mall at South Gloucestershire’s Cribbs Causeway retail park.

The project will culminate in an on-road public trial at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

An engagement day was also held at the trial with two local schools – Digitech Studio School and Filton Primary School – to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) activities in the region. 

George Lunt, technical director at Aecom, said: “Connected and autonomous vehicles are predicted to make a huge impact on society, but require significant research and development to support their future commercial use. With a wide range of potential markets for on-demand mobility services, our pilot has clear economic benefits that will inform the business cases for these types of schemes. The trial at Filton Airfield is the first important milestone for this pilot and will inform our next trial due to take place in a public environment at a busy shopping centre.”

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