First use of driverless cars on UK roads
The country’s first driverless car trial will see commuters taken from Didcot Parkway to Milton Park in autonomous pods.
The driverless pods will travel between private roads in the 250-acre business and technology park but also on public roads that link the site with transport services, including Didcot Parkway.
The 30-month trial, announced following a £2.5m grant from Innovate UK, will allow commuters to book and pay for journeys to and from work.
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.
The project will be undertaken by a consortium of organisations investing in the development of autonomous vehicles, and led by UK transport operator FirstGroup.
John Birtwistle, project lead for FirstGroup, said: “We’re excited to be leading the first mainstream use of autonomous vehicles in the UK.
“By connecting the Milton Park development with the existing regional transport infrastructure, including Great Western Railway trains at Didcot Parkway station, commuters will see a tangible reason to leave their cars at home.
“It’s a huge step towards tackling the problem of congestion on our roads and enabling the sustainable future development of the business park and, potentially, other similar sites in the future.”
Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for transport, Yvonne Constance, said: “Oxfordshire was the first council to consider autonomous vehicles within its transport policy and has been a supporter of the technology since it’s infancy in the UK.
“We have an incredible concentration of AV related companies, and in Culham, RACE the UK’s real world test bed facility.
South Oxfordshire District Council leader, John Cotton, said: “The funding will deliver an exciting regular commercial service, using innovative transport, to connect residents, visitors and workers to the surrounding business community based on Milton Park – one of the main principles in the Didcot Garden Town plan.”