Oxfordshire will be home to the first autonomous vehicles to hit public roads in the UK, as a trial funded by the governments innovation agency was announced.
Innovate UK, on Tuesday 27 February, announced the award of £2.5 million to trial self-driving vehicles in and around Milton Park, the large, high-tech business and science hub near Didcot. The vehicles will travel between private roads at Milton Park and the public roads that link the site with nearby transport services. The 30-month MultiCAV project will be undertaken by a consortium of organisations with different sector backgrounds who are investing in the development of autonomous vehicles, and led by UK transport operator FirstGroup.
Despite being relatively close to Didcot Parkway station, most travel to and from Milton Park is currently made in private vehicles. With the site set to expand in the coming years, the MultiCAV consortium is building on the work already underway to provide the park with long-term, safe sustainable transport. Commuters to the site will be able to connect with the self-driving pods from local transport services, while booking and paying for their trip in one easy process. It is hoped that by the end of the trial up to 50% of private vehicle journeys within the business park will switch to using the shared, electric-powered pods.