Self-Driving Shuttles Planned for Northern Ireland

The Oxa and eVersum vehicles are part of an initiative to improve sustainable transport operations in the area

Graham Hope

November 13, 2023

3 Min Read
An autonomous shuttle developed by Oxa and eVersum on a road.

The first deployment of autonomous shuttles developed by Oxa and eVersum will be in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland.

The British self-driving tech company, formerly known as Oxbotica, announced it was teaming up with the Austrian bus manufacturer in October.

And now the pair have confirmed they will provide vehicles that will operate around the Belfast Harbour area – which contains popular tourist attractions such as the Titanic Exhibition – as part of a program called The Harlander Project.

This is an initiative designed to improve sustainable transport operations in the area, which has been partially funded by the United Kingdom government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and the Innovate UK agency.

The shuttles will make use of the Oxa Driver, the Oxford-based firm’s full stack of software which can be integrated into any vehicle to provide self-driving capability. The system is modular and customizable, and can be retrofitted too, allowing Oxa to deliver on its core proposition of “Universal Autonomy.”

In Belfast, the Oxa Driver will be applied to the eVersum eShuttle, a zero-emissions, mid-size, low-floored bus.

The eShuttle will be able to seat 20 people and carry 40 in total (including those standing), and will operate with a human safety monitor on board.

Related:Self-Driving Shuttles Being Developed for US, Europe

Initially, two eShuttles will run through Belfast Harbour’s Innovation District, with the first quarter of 2025 earmarked for trial runs without passengers, before the service is opened out to the public.

While the project will have an important role locally – it is seen as a key component of an investment plan designed to deliver massively increased visitor numbers – Oxa and eVersum believe it can have a wider significance, too.

The hope is that it will serve as a blueprint for transport networks across the U.K. and internationally, where advanced self-driving systems and vehicles play an integral role.

Oxa CEO Gavin Jackson explained: “With eVersum, we can deploy passenger-carrying autonomous shuttle fleets almost anywhere and these flexible forms of transport will become widespread as a way of moving people and goods in a safer, more efficient and faster way.

“The broader rollout of self-driving vehicles is starting, and shuttling can lead the way as the fastest evolving commercial arena for Oxa self-driving technology to make its mark internationally.”

Ben Jardine, chief product officer and CEO eVersum UK, added: “With Harlander, and with Oxa, we are laying the foundations for commercializing autonomous driving passenger transport across the U.K. and far beyond.”

Related:Self-Driving Technology Developer Oxbotica Raises $140M

Oxa has made major progress over the past 12 months, having raised $140 million in funding in January. Among its significant new collaborations is a deal with Beep that ultimately could see it provide autonomous shuttle services across seven American states.

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About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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