A report into potential solutions to traffic congestion problems in Cambridge are highlighting driverless cars as one way things could be improved.
The Greater Cambridge City Deal sets out a proposal to incorporate a “smart cities” approach within the City Deal programme to help support the delivery of improved transport, skills and housing and unlock further sustainable economic growth within Greater Cambridge.
One option suggested is “Working with transport policy staff and drawing on expertise from the University of Cambridge to investigate whether autonomous vehicles can deliver some of the aims of the city deal within the medium term and highlight Cambridge as a showcase for advanced, future oriented technology development. For example there may be opportunities to join up various campuses off-road using on demand driverless pods.”
The report wants Cambridge to harness digital technology, saying the technology now underpins almost all aspects of modern living in every sphere across work, travel, leisure and health, and increasingly it impacts on the economic strength, sustainability and quality of life of all parts of the UK and beyond. Emerging “smart cities” technology which is set to have an even greater economic impact in future, builds on this to utilise digital connectivity, sensors and data in innovative ways to support efficient resource and environmental management, combatting traffic congestion and other city management challenges and engage more directly with citizens.
Cambridge University’s reputation as a leading centre for technology and innovation will be harnessed, with the report suggesting the Greater Cambridge area has a unique opportunity to become a leading “digital test bed” for smart technology.
The initial objectives of the Smarter Cambridgeshire project, through to September 2016 will be to:
- Generate an outline “smart architecture” blueprint which will facilitate the delivery of a testbed/demonstrator programme.
- Establish and deliver an initial one year test bed/demonstrator programme of work packages which implement small scale “smart” solutions, with a focus on transport related opportunities (see Appendix C for example work streams).
- Establish/ participate in a wider forum for collaboration with and information exchange between complementary work programmes (eg the Mobilising Local Energy Initiative – MLIE) and other initiatives across the wider Cambridge research and development communities to develop and showcase the “smart” credentials and profile of the area.
- Investigate government, EU and other funding opportunities and co-ordinate funding bids to develop the Smarter Cambridgeshire programme in both the short and medium term
- Investigate and develop collaboration opportunities with other nearby cities, including Peterborough and Milton Keynes. Co-ordinate funding bids where possible to develop the Smarter Cambridgeshire programme in both the short and medium term.
- Develop a longer term smart cities approach which reflects the level of ambition for Greater Cambridge. This will complement and influence the emerging City Deal programme to ensure that “smart” characteristics are incorporated within the overall approach to housing, transport and skills as part of the delivery of the City Deal.