October 2, 2023
A British self-driving tech company is branching out to mainland Europe for the first time with its autonomous bus.
Aurrigo, based in Coventry in the English Midlands, is deploying its outrageous-looking Auto-Shuttle in the Czech Republic as part of a European Union-funded project.
The EU-backed Living Lab for Autonomous Public Transport (LivingLAPT) will see the Auto-Shuttle hit the road in the Czech capital of Prague, as well as the country’s second city Brno. The U.K. city of Milton Keynes will also be used for the program.
The aim of the initiative, which is being led by University College London (UCL), is to move autonomous public transport to the next level by working towards removing safety drivers from vehicles and using remote supervision.
As such, the Auto-Shuttle – which is powered by electricity, can reach 12 mph and seat 10 passengers – will initially run with a human driver on board, but with remote control due to be introduced over a period of time. The vehicle uses lidar, cameras and Aurrigo’s own in-house software to provide a 3D picture of its surroundings and deliver its automated functionality.
As well as building trust in autonomous transport among users, local authorities and policymakers, LivingLAPT will also bring benefits for participants such as Aurrigo.
While the company has previously deployed the Auto-Shuttle in the U.K., including trials at Birmingham Airport and in Cambridge, the project will allow it to gain experience of different types of street layouts, road conditions and public attitudes to autonomy, helping to inform future development.
This was acknowledged by Aurrigo CEO David Keene, who said: “Although we work all over the world, this is the first Auto-Shuttle deployment in mainland Europe for Aurrigo. The medieval, cobbled streets of Prague, built before cars or buses were dreamt of, are in stark contrast to the modern roads of Milton Keynes, which shows the importance of testing in multiple cities.
“The Aurrigo Auto-Shuttle is a perfect vehicle for this project because we create the vehicle, software and autonomous driving hardware in-house. This level of integration is vital when breaking new ground in driverless technology.”
Professor Bani Anvari of UCL added: “Driverless shuttles or pods can be a game changer for cities… [but] current solutions lack a transferable regulatory and safety framework among European cities. Low public acceptance in combination with high investments in the new technology is a barrier to adoption.
“LivingLAPT will deliver sustainable driverless shuttle and logistics services among various European cities by phasing out the need for safety drivers in shuttles and moving towards remote operators who overlook a number of services simultaneously. This will be achieved through a robust transnational safety framework as well as promoting user acceptance and trust.”
Residents and visitors to Prague keen to try out the wild-looking bus can do so for free at the Výstaviště exhibition grounds until early October.
Like what you've read? For more stories like this on self-driving vehicles and emerging technologies, sign up for our free daily email newsletter to stay updated!
About the Author(s)
You May Also Like