Government green-lights first use of autonomous vehicles on UK roads

The first use of fully connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) on public roads is set to take place in Oxfordshire, following the announcement of government funding into a trial project.

Innovate UK has announced the award of £2.5 million to trial self-driving vehicles in and around the Milton Park business and science hub near Didcot, Oxfordshire. The vehicles will travel between private roads and the public roads that link the site with nearby transport services.

Philip Campbell, commercial director for MEPC at Milton Park said: “Milton Park is at the heart of UK’s most fertile innovation economy and this project is about using technology developed by some of the best brains in the world to improve sustainable transport choice. The fruition of this project will give Milton Park occupiers better choice in their daily travel decisions and the chance to be amongst the first in the world to travel on autonomous shuttle vehicles for their everyday journeys.”

With the site set to expand in the coming years, the 30-month MultiCAV consortium is building on the work already underway to provide the park with long-term, safe sustainable transport. 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.

John Birtwistle, project lead for FirstGroup, said: “We’re excited to be leading the first mainstream use of autonomous vehicles in the UK. 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.”