AECOM’s Capri consortium has launched driverless pod trials at Filton Airfield, hoping to pave the way for greater use of the connected and autonomous vehicle technology in airports, hospitals, business parks, shopping and tourist centres.
The research will inform the pods’ first public appearance later this year when they will transport members of the public around The Mall at South Gloucestershire’s Cribbs Causeway retail park.
The closed test at the disused airfield is the first of four trials under the pilot, which is being delivered by Capri, an AECOM-led consortium awarded £4.2m last year from Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV).
During the two week trial the pods’ safety critical features are being assessed along with participant comfort.
The project will culminate in an on-road public trial at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Focusing on passenger trips of up to five miles, Capri is developing systems and technologies to allow the vehicles to navigate safely and seamlessly in both pedestrian and on-road environments, known as ‘dual-mode’.
The consortium is looking at how the network can harness data to enable location, positioning and on-demand services to help support a wider roll-out of dual-mode autonomous pods.
George Lunt, technical director, AECOM, said: “With a wide range of potential markets for on-demand mobility services, our pilot has clear economic benefits that will inform the business cases for these types of schemes. The trial at Filton Airfield is the first important milestone for this pilot and will inform our next trial due to take place in a public environment at a busy shopping centre.”
The Capri consortium includes global enterprises with established multidisciplinary expertise, academic institutions involved in automotive research and SMEs developing exciting new technology solutions.