UK driverless technology to unlock traffic congestion

Posted on 10 May 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Driverless technology developed by RDM Group is to play a leading role in a project aimed at reducing traffic congestion in Cambridge – one of the UK’s fastest growing cities.

RDM Group’s four and eight-seater pods are also able to accommodate wheelchairs, mobility scooters and bicycles – image courtesy of RDM Group.
RDM Group’s four and eight-seater pods are also able to accommodate wheelchairs, mobility scooters and bicycles – image courtesy of RDM Group.

Autonomous vehicle specialist, RDM Group is working with Cambridgeshire County Council and Wellcome Genome Campus to deliver a £250,000 feasibility study exploring the business case for a future £3m – £5m self-driving shuttle service across two key commuter routes.

Part funded by Innovate UK, the Coventry-based company will utilise its existing four and eight-seater Pod Zero, as well as looking at the case for designing and manufacturing larger shuttles of up to fifteen seats s demand dictates.

The areas under examination will be an existed guided busway at Trumpington Park serving the Cambridge Biomedical Park, and a driverless shuttle service between the Wellcome Genome Campus and Whittlesford Parkway Railway Station on a new off-road pathway.

Director of Connected and Autonomous Mobility Programmes for RDM Group, Dr Richard Fairchild explained: “Self-driving vehicles are a flexible, responsive, transport service that operates in conjunction with existing train, bus and park and ride services that can make a real impact, improving mobility around Cambridge by reducing congestion and providing first and last mile travel options.

“The feasibility study is the first step in making this project a reality and giving two strategically important sites in Cambridge the opportunity to benefit from a more connected transport network that could benefit up to 15,000 workers and thousands of visitors every day.”

He continued: “The new Whittlesford pathway would be fully autonomous, while the busway is planned to extend the existing service to a 24-hour operation, especially important for the Addenbrooke’s hospital site.”

Chief operating officer of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Wellcome Genome Campus, Martin Dougherty commented: “The Wellcome Genome Campus is not only a world-leading centre for genomic research, but it is also a green campus. We employ a wide range of high-tech solutions to minimise our impact on the environment. Exploring how driverless electric vehicles could provide our staff with easy access to the nearby rail station may offer opportunities to further minimise our carbon footprint.”

The feasibility study will investigate key questions about the demand and impact of such a service on the areas involved, the type of vehicles and connected systems required, the best routes for the service and what is the right operating model.