New self-driving bus to be launched in Milton Keynes

It’s part of a Europe-wide research project
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A new self-driving bus is this week ready to take passengers in Central Milton Keynes.

The fully accessible electric shuttle can carry up to 15 passengers and was launched this week, running a loop connecting Santander’s new UK HQ at Unity Place with centre:mk, the Theatre District and Station Square.

Milton Keynes was selected to trial the new shuttle as part of a Europe-wide research project that is the longest and most geographically complex of its kind.

The self-driving shuttle bus is running this month in Central Milton KeynesThe self-driving shuttle bus is running this month in Central Milton Keynes
The self-driving shuttle bus is running this month in Central Milton Keynes

The LivingLAPT project is funded by EIT Urban Mobility and led by University College London (UCL).

The autonomous shuttle uses five lidar sensors and seven cameras to create a full 360-degree view around the vehicle and navigate safely along public roads. It has an operator on board, capable of taking control at any time.

The trial follows similar successful trials in Prague and Brno in the Czech Republic in 2023 and in Helmond, Hasselt, Kongberg and Ricany in 2022.

However, in Milton Keynes – widely considered a living laboratory for research thanks to its involvement in a range of emerging technology trials – the shuttle will navigate multiple stops and carriageways for a far longer period.

Operated by the UK-based transport technology specialist Aurrigo, it will be monitored by UCL whose research team will be in Milton Keynes talking with users in the trial to find out how the service can be developed to meet passenger needs.

Local people can also share their thoughts about automated shuttles with UCL through this short survey.

Cllr Jennifer Wilson-Marklew, Cabinet member for Climate Action and Sustainability, said: “Once again, Milton Keynes is at the forefront of a new, sustainable technology trial. We’ve proven again and again that the city is a brilliant destination for technology leaders to develop their plans into real world solutions. This important research into self-driving vehicles on public roads is creating a template for cities around the world to follow. We’ll work alongside University College London to ensure everyone benefits from the data they gather.”

Bani Anvar, Professor of Intelligent Mobility & Lead of LivingLAPT at UCL, said: “Our European journey is pushing the boundaries of autonomous vehicles, aiming to reduce the need for human safety operators while fine-tuning the intricate balance of safety and trust. Pioneering research into the workload assessment of teleoperators stationed at control centres, has further enriched our activities. This 25-minute ride in Milton Keynes, where these self-driving vehicles seamlessly navigate complex city intersections, traffic signals, and diverse road users, is an exciting blend of cutting-edge science and automotive innovation.”

And David Keene, who is the CEO of Aurrigo, added: “The research project will also see a new autonomous delivery shuttle test its capabilities at Stadium MK.

"Operated by Bring Auto and using a Smart Fleet Management platform from Applied Autonomy, the shuttle is about the size of a small car and will take deliveries around the stadium site over a two-week period during November. It can interact with an external ordering system to fulfil orders without the involvement of a human operator.”

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