Milton Keynes to host the world’s largest autonomous ‘first and last mile’ transport trial

Aurrigo, a division of RDM Group, has delivered 10 ‘Pod Zeros’ for use in the next stage of the UK Autodrive project that will soon see self-driving vehicles taking to the pavements and streets of Milton Keynes.

The pods are now having their autonomous control systems fine-tuned before they will form part of the largest ‘first and last mile’ transport trial in the world that could be doing up to 120km of journeys every day.

Dr Richard Fairchild, director of autonomous mobility programmes at Aurrigo, said: “We now not only have the autonomous technology in place, we also have a production line capable of being ramped up to deliver pods in low and medium volumes.”

He continued: “We have been testing the first two vehicles around MK and there has been plenty of interested onlookers asking us questions, some of which were a lot more technical than we expected.”

Aurrigo has invested in the development of a control centre in the town centre and has recruited the first three people to support the roll-out as part of what will eventually be a ten-strong team.

This gives the company the presence on the ground it requires to safely and effectively oversee the testing before it goes live with passengers in the Summer when up to 40 pods – capable of travelling up to 15 miles per hour and lasting up to 60 miles off one charge – will operate from Central Station to Campbell Park and Silbury Boulevard to Avebury Boulevard.

Dr Fairchild concluded: “We want to get people talking about driverless vehicles as a possible solution for the ‘first and last mile’ part of the journey. The more pods people start seeing, the more the conversation will gather pace.”

UK Autodrive, which is funded by Innovate UK, is a three-year project that is trialling the use of connected and self-driving vehicles on the streets of Milton Keynes and Coventry.