Aurrigo gets into gear for rural UK self-driving first

Iconic venue that hosted Harry Potter and The Transformers films becomes base for first self-driving vehicles in UK countryside seeing Auto-Pod carry passengers on a shared 500-metre path

As part of a major new study led by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and insight and strategy specialist BritainThinks, Aurrigo has embarked on a four-day trial of its self-driving vehicles.

Based in the heart of the UK’s traditional Midlands automotive home in Coventry, Aurrigo claims to be a leader in the development of “first and last mile” transport solutions. Its self-driving pods are designed to provide mobility within urban areas, shopping malls, airports, university campuses, science parks and other areas that are poorly served by traditional transport providers.

The Great Self Driving Exploration allowed residents local to Alnwick Castle and Alnwick Gardens in Northeast England see the first time that self-driving vehicles have been tested in rural communities.

The trial saw Aurrigo’s Auto-Pod carry up to two passengers on a shared 500-metre path that connects Alnwick Gardens to Alnwick Castle. It also included the company’s Auto-Shuttle, which can hold up to six people, take passengers from the local bus station to the castle in a 1.2km route that was shared with live traffic, including cars, bikes and pedestrians. Both self-driving vehicles are electric-powered and use a suite of sensors to understand their surroundings.

Aurrigo, which is currently completing other passenger trials in the UK, used its appearance at Alnwick Castle to reveal its Auto-Deliver technology for the first time. It gave people the chance to look around the self-driving “grocery delivery” vehicle that the software firm says could change the way we receive essential items to our doors. It believes the way in which the vehicle has been designed means organisations can complete multi-drops using the power of password/QR protected compartments – ideal for serving housing estates, university campuses or business parks.

A year ago, Aurrigo revealed that it had, in partnership with Greater Cambridge Partnership and Smart Cambridge, begun trialling in Cambridge a custom-made autonomous vehicle capable of carrying passengers on a main road surrounded by other traffic, including cars, lorries, vans, bikes and pedestrians. The three auto-shuttles used in those trials were based in part on technology from AWS Wavelength and distributed edge computing from Vodafone over the operator’s 5G network to deliver the ultra-low latency and the bandwidth to guarantee the required levels of performance and cyber resilience.

“It’s great to be showcasing our technology in such a beautiful location and the feedback we have received will be important in the future development of self-driving vehicles,” said Ricky Raines, operations manager at Aurrigo. “We believe this type of first and last mile transport is key to supporting people with mobility issues and this exploration event will be extremely useful in helping understand how individuals in rural locations feel about self-driving technology and any changes that can be made to enhance the user experience.”

Lucy Farrow, associate partner at BritainThinks, added: “The BritainThinks team are delighted to be delivering this innovative research project in partnership with CCAV, UCL and Aurrigo. It offers a unique opportunity to understand not just what people think of self-driving vehicles as they are now, but also their hopes and expectations for the future.”

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