The self-driving shuttles will carry up to 40 passengers around the Innovation District in Northern Ireland’s Belfast Harbour Estate, plus tourist attractions including the Titanic Belfast exhibition. With tourist numbers predicted to rise to more than 5.6 million by 2035, the Harlander Project is seen as a vital component of the area’s sustainable transport plan.
The first Belfast Harbour project shuttles are due to enter passenger service in 2025.
In a statement, Oxa CEO Gavin Jackson said: “With eVersum, we can deploy passenger-carrying autonomous shuttle fleets almost anywhere and these flexible forms of transport will become widespread as a way of moving people and goods in a safer, more efficient and faster way.
“The broader rollout of self-driving vehicles is starting and shuttling can lead the way as the fastest evolving commercial arena for Oxa self-driving technology to make its mark internationally.”
The shuttles will be driven by Oxa Driver, a full stack of software components that can be integrated into any self-driving vehicle. According to Oxa, the system is highly modular and customisable and can be retrofitted as a complete solution or integrated into co-developed autonomy solutions in full or at a component level.
The eVersum eShuttle is a mid-sized, complete low-floor accessible shuttle bus. Each shuttle in the Belfast deployment will have a human safety operator on board and be capable of carrying up to 20 people seated and 40 in total including standing room.
The Harlander project has budget of £11m which is part-funded by Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV). Dedicated to solving transport challenges in the Belfast area, this deployment will initially see two autonomous shared passenger shuttles running between local transport links.
The rollout phase involves a period of closed operation during the first quarter of 2025, before the service opens for passengers. Oxa (formerly Oxbotica) and eVersum’s expectation is that the Belfast project will be a blueprint for new public transport networks across the UK and internationally.
Project Harlander’s industry partners and supporters are BT, Horiba MIRA Ltd, Angoka Ltd and Zenzic.