What has been described as the UK’s first fully electric autonomous bus service is set to launch to the public at Milton Park in Oxfordshire.
The launch follows a project demonstration on Monday 23 January that took place at the park, which was attended by local leaders, occupiers, buses minister Richard Holden MP and the project’s consortium partners.
The service, named Mi-Link, features a 16-seat, single-decker minibus using Fusion Processing Ltd’s CAVstar Automated Drive System. This system combines a range of sensors including radar, lidar and optical cameras in conjunction with artificial intelligence (AI) to control steering, acceleration and braking applications. The bus can reportedly operate without the need for human intervention.
What’s more, it is also a fully-electric and zero-emission service.
Philip Campbell, commercial director at MEPC Milton Park, said: “The Mi-Link trials represent a landmark step in the future of green autonomous travel.
“Given the array of innovative companies based at the Park from pioneers in battery technology to green energy, it’s fitting that the next generation of passenger transport is taking shape here.
“While the trials are of national significance, they are also an important step in encouraging people across Milton Park, Didcot and South Oxfordshire to travel in a more sustainable way – a key part of the Park’s 2040 Vision.
“We look forward to collaborating further with the other partners to ensure these exciting trials become a blueprint for the future of sustainable public transport and connectivity.”
The project was funded by a commercial and private sector partnership and through the UK Department for Transport’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) via Innovate UK.
The aim of the project was to develop a publicly-available passenger service that could offer a free and green travel alternative. It is intended to reduce the volume of car trips within Milton Park by an estimated 50%.
The Mi-Link journey planner was developed by Zipabout, and has been tailored to Milton Park to provide real-time updates on the service’s operation times between 7am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday.