Autonomous bus starts trials in Oxfordshire
What has been described as the UK’s first-ever zero emission autonomous bus service has today started trials on public roads in Oxfordshire.
The new bus service, which is fully electric, will serve Milton Park business, science and technology park near Didcot and Abingdon. The service is expected to improve the way people move both around the park, which is home to 250 companies and 9,000 employees, and the wider Didcot region.
Part of the Mi-Link green travel programme, the Milton Park Circular service 1 is being operated by First Bus. The £4.3m project has been funded by a £3m grant from the UK Government alongside a commercial and private sector partnership. The UK Department for Transport’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) provided this financial support through Innovate UK.
Led by First Bus, the consortium comprising Fusion Processing Ltd, Oxfordshire County Council, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and Zipabout with Milton Park (as the host location) has brought this five-year project to fruition. The new 16-seat fully accessible single-decker has a safety driver onboard at all times to provide a personalised service and information to passengers.
The project is now in its final stages having been established to demonstrate the application of autonomous vehicle technology to real-world service provision. By the time the research project completes at the end of 2023, the service will be connected with Didcot Parkway Railway station.
Buses Minister Richard Holden MP joined senior directors of the consortium at Milton Park and was amongst the first to travel on the autonomous bus as part of a special demonstration.
“The launch of the UK’s first zero emission autonomous vehicle is a stellar example of how technology can support modal shift with wide partnership working between local authorities, operators and local business” – Janette Bell, Managing Director at First Bus
Janette Bell, Managing Director at First Bus, said: “The launch of the UK’s first zero emission autonomous vehicle is a stellar example of how technology can support modal shift with wide partnership working between local authorities, operators and local business.
“First Bus serves millions of customers in the UK, and we know that so many of our customers take the bus because they care about our planet and reducing their carbon footprint. We’re excited to now be able to offer them an even greener and quieter way to travel, and we cannot wait to hear some feedback on the new buses.”
“The launch of the UK’s first autonomous, zero-emission bus today is yet another key step towards achieving Net Zero” – Richard Holden MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
Richard Holden MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State with responsibility for roads and local transport, said: “It’s thrilling to see our £3 million investment help British firms and engineers pioneer new, exciting ideas to achieve our vision of a truly efficient and sustainable transport network.
“The launch of the UK’s first autonomous, zero-emission bus today is yet another key step towards achieving Net Zero, creating high-wage, high-skilled new jobs and opportunities while truly levelling up transport across the country.”