The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) is preparing to run two projects on the use of connected vehicle technology to support transport networks.
Supported by the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, it has won funding from the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) following a successful trial of an automated shuttle in 2021.
Project Connector is scheduled to begin early next year, running for 12 months, and will trial on-demand, self-driving vehicles alongside existing traffic and transport services within Cambridge. Its cost is estimated at just over £17.5 million with £8.77 million coming from CCAV.
It will operate on two sites – Cambridge University’s West Cambridge Campus and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus – with self-driving vehicles leveraging a 5G connected remote monitoring and tele-operation service, with provision for the temporary override of vehicle automation.
A key objective is to assess the commercial viability and challenges in operating self-driving passenger services as a transport mode integrated with the wider transport eco-system.
The GCP will be working with Stagecoach and other stakeholders on the project.
The other project, the Cambridge Autonomous Rapid Transport (CART) study, begins this month with a £92,474 grant from CCAV’s Connected and Automated Mobility programme plus £61,074 of industrial contributions.
It will look into how self-driving technology could improve public transport and investigate potential routes where automated vehicles could operate exclusively from other traffic to relieve congestion.
The project will be run by the GCP’s Smart team with Arup and consulting and engineering services provider Costain, to look at how a future corridor could enable connections from new developments in the east of Cambridge.
Cllr Elisa Meschini, chair of the GCP’s executive board, said: “Autonomous vehicles will have a role to play in the public transport system allowing more flexible transport options to be provided and the GCP is exploring how these could, in the future, support the delivery of a world class public transport network in Cambridge.
“The feasibility study will support research into potential driverless vehicle services to link the city’s research campuses with the rail stations and park and ride sites. It further builds on the innovative work already being carried out by the GCP to explore how smart technology could be used to cut congestion, improve air quality and transform public transport to help people to get to work, education and to see friends and family.”
The GCP the local delivery body for a city deal with central government, its partners being Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and the University of Cambridge.