ICAV Cluster

Autonomous vehicles “could fill in gaps in the UK’s public transport network.” 

According to a government-led study, self-driving vehicles (SDVs) hold the potential to bridge gaps in the UK’s public transport system. This groundbreaking survey, the first of its kind in the country, revealed that an impressive 72% of participants acknowledged the possibility of SDVs improving transport connectivity, particularly in rural areas. 

The study put forth various suggestions to optimize transport services, including the implementation of enhanced evening, night, and weekend options, the introduction of smaller and more direct routes, and the provision of shuttle services between villages and railway stations. 

Respondents also expressed confidence in SDVs’ ability to alleviate congestion and stimulate economic growth. However, the study also brought attention to certain concerns voiced by the public. Foremost among these concerns was safety, followed by potential job losses and the initial set-up costs that might strain the finances of already cash-strapped local authorities. 

Currently, fully automated SDVs are not legally permitted on UK roads, although certain vehicles, like Teslas, already incorporate the necessary technology. The government is actively reviewing SDV technology, with plans to establish a legal framework for their operation on UK roads by 2025

Conducted by the Department for Transport (DfT), the study involved trialing SDVs in three distinct locations: a rural area, a town, and a city. These trials aimed to gauge public reactions to the technology. In the trials, an Aurrigo Auto-Shuttle was deployed to transport individuals in Alnwick (Northumberland), the Etihad sports complex in Manchester City, and the town of Taunton (Somerset). 

Additionally, an Aurrigo Auto-pod was employed for a similar exercise, restricted to private roads, encompassing Alnwick Castle and the walkway leading to Manchester City’s football ground. 

Furthermore, the researchers divided participants into three groups, exposing them to varying levels of information about SDVs, while a separate national survey served as a control group. The report revealed that approximately 24% of respondents from the national survey believed that SDVs could enhance public transport connectivity. 

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