RDM Group to investigate autonomous transport for Cambridge

RDM Group is to lead a feasibility study into the introduction of autonomous transportation to help alleviate congestion in Cambridge.

The Coventry-based autonomous vehicle company will work with Cambridgeshire County Council and the Wellcome Genome Campus to deliver a £250,000 investigation into the business case for a future £3m – £5m self-driving shuttle service across two routes connecting sites in Cambridge with other transport options.

Part funded by Innovate UK, the company will utilise their four and eight-seater Pod Zero and evaluate the design and manufacture of larger shuttles of up to fifteen seats.

Areas under examination are an existed guided busway at Trumpington Park, which serves the Cambridge Biomedical Park, whilst the second will be a driverless shuttle service between the Wellcome Genome Campus and Whittlesford Parkway Railway Station on a new off-road pathway.

Dr Richard Fairchild, director of Connected and Autonomous Mobility Programmes for RDM Group said: “Self-driving vehicles are a flexible, responsive, transport service that operates in conjunction with existing train, bus and park and ride services that can make a real impact, improving mobility around Cambridge by reducing congestion and providing first and last mile travel options.

“The feasibility study is the first step in making this project a reality and giving two strategically important sites in Cambridge the opportunity to benefit from a more connected transport network.

“The new Whittlesford pathway would be fully autonomous, whilst the busway is planned to extend the existing service to a 24-hour operation, especially important for the Addenbrooke’s hospital site.”

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The study will investigate the demand and impact of such a service on the areas involved, the type of vehicles and connected systems required, the best routes for services and the right operating model.

RDM Group said it will design and manufacture a larger version of its four and eight passenger self-driving pods to suit the location and customer needs, with all pods also able to accommodate wheelchairs, mobility scooters and bicycles.

The company will also look at developing vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications to enable platooning of shuttles along the guided busway, as well as handling real time video feeds for safety, security and management of vehicles.