Aston University, Birmingham has revealed its first autonomous vehicle, named Auto-Pod, which will be used for research and teaching purposes within the Aston Institute for Urban Technologies and the Environment (ASTUTE).
From Coventry-based autonomous vehicle technology company Aurrigo, the Auto-Pod will be deployed on campus as part of research into providing higher levels of safety in operating autonomous vehicles, replacing high-cost detection systems and delivering new low-speed autonomous transport systems.
David Webb, professor of photonics and director of ASTUTE, said: “We met with Aurrigo a few years ago and thought at the time how brilliant it would be to have one on campus as an educational tool to inform the public and students about the driverless technology that is on its way.
“It is an excellent teaching tool, and we couldn’t think of a better way to help our students plan for the future of vehicles. It is also going to be a great research tool, allowing us to look at a wide range of contributing technologies, from AI to mechanical engineering and the sensors on the device.”
The autonomous vehicle was launched to coincide with Birmingham Tech Week, and is funded by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and Institute of Technology.
Auto-Pod will be able to operate itself and perform a number of functions in and around the campus. Its ability to sense its surroundings will enable students to learn more about the future of travel through technology.
Miles Garner, sales and marketing director for Aurrigo, added: “We have autonomous vehicles around the world, but this is a first for Birmingham. We are currently helping build a map of the campus with our engineers, so that Auto-Pod knows the best route to take and then it will be programmed to go out on its own.
“It’s great to see such interest in the vehicle on campus and we cannot wait to meet the engineers of the future, who will be working with it.”