Sunderland autonomous shuttle prepares for launch


Self-driving shuttles have arrived in Sunderland and are set to transport passengers around the city this spring.

The Sunderland Advanced Mobility Shuttle (SAMS) project will trial three self-driving zero emission autonomous shuttles, which will transport passengers on public roads between Sunderland Interchange, the University of Sunderland City Campus and the Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Preparations are underway to map the route for the shuttles to optimise navigation capabilities and support seamless travel for passengers.

Operator training starts in April to equip 'on-board safety attendants' with the necessary skills to oversee and manage autonomous operations effectively.

Safety operators will always be on board but the project aims to 'develop and demonstrate a cyber secure remote supervision protocol, an important step towards commercial deployment'.

The project is led by Sunderland City Council in partnership with Aurrigo, Stagecoach, ANGOKA Ltd, Newcastle University, Swansea University and Boldyn Networks.

Sunderland City Council chief executive said: 'As we prepare to welcome the Sunderland Advanced Mobility Shuttle to our city streets, we are embarking on an exciting journey towards a more connected and sustainable future,' said Patrick Melia.

'SAMS represents a significant leap forward in our efforts to embrace innovation and improve the quality of life for our residents. We look forward to seeing the positive impact this self-driving shuttle will have on urban mobility across Sunderland.'

The city's mayor, Cllr Dorothy Trueman, said: 'We are thrilled to welcome the innovative SAMS shuttle to Sunderland, marking the beginning of a new era in urban mobility for our residents and visitors.

'The arrival of SAMS signifies Sunderland and the wider region's position as a forward-thinking location, leading the way in adopting transformative technologies that enhance the lives of our community members.'

The shuttle will run along an intelligent transport corridor, enabled by 5G small cells which are being installed along the vehicle route by Boldyn Networks.

The project has been awarded £3m by the Government and matched by industry to a total £6m. It is one of six successful CAM Deployment UK projects from the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) Deployment competition.

The grants are part of the CCAV’s “Connected and Automated Mobility” programme supported by CCAV, Innovate UK and Zenzic.

Richard Fairchild, chief operations officer at Aurrigo, which designed the shuttle, said: 'Collaborating with technology leaders at Sunderland City Council and other project partners to develop plans into real-world solutions is a significant step forward in research for self-driving vehicles operating on public roads.

'With the arrival of the SAMS shuttle, Sunderland is poised to emerge as a trailblazer in the realm of self-driving transportation, setting a precedent for other cities to follow in the quest for smarter, more efficient mobility solutions.'

Find out more about SAMS and follow the project’s progress.

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