Driverless buses will begin transporting passengers around Birmingham next month, the region’s mayor has confirmed.
Passengers will be able to use the buses between Birmingham International rail station and Birmingham Business Park, via the NEC Birmingham.
Taking to Twitter earlier this week, Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, confirmed they would come into operation during March.
As part of the project, a second route will also be rolled out between Coventry rail station and Coventry University campus – although no start date has been confirmed for this.
A mixed fleet of 13 automated shuttles will serve the two new routes, and the scheme will be supported by a new centralised Remote Monitoring Teleoperation (RMTO) centre.
Operated by Transport for West Midlands, the RMTO centre will monitor the automated vehicles, and using 5G connectivity it will be able to control them when required.
The project aims to make self-driving vehicle operations commercially viable and to reduce technology and operator costs.
Andy Street said: “As a region, we’re already leading the way when it comes to the development of transport technology and future oriented autonomous vehicle systems.
“These schemes will collectively play a central role in our net zero commitment as we deliver on the promise of a green transport revolution in the months and years ahead.”
The driverless buses form part of a wider project which aims to demonstrate sustainable commercial connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) services by 2025
Overseen by a regional consortium, led by autonomous technology provider Conigital, the Multi-Area Connected Automated Mobility (MACAM) project has been jointly funded by government and industry.
One of the key partners in the MACAM project is Solihull Council.
Cllr Courts, leader of Solihull Council, said: “CAV technology has the potential to revolutionise the way we get around, as well as how we transport goods.
“Working with our partners we are excited to be leading the way, not just in Solihull, but regionally and across the country, in providing learning on CAV deployments in different setting and scenarios.
“We’ve already carried out a series of successful pathfinder trials here in Solihull, using our own automated shuttle. We have shown how it is possible to practically and safely incorporate automated vehicles into key parts of our transport infrastructure.
“However, this next step will help develop our understanding around the commercial viability of self-driving operations.”