Councillors met Transport Minister Trudy Harrison for a self-driving vehicle trial in Alnwick

High-tech self-driving trial visits county

Hundreds of Alnwick residents and visitors have taken part in a ground-breaking study into the future of travel.

And county councillors joined Transport Minister Trudy Harrison to take a ride in cutting edge self-driving vehicles, as part of a study with the Department of Transport, led by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

The Great Self Driving Exploration was held over four days at Alnwick Castle and The Alnwick Garden. There was an Auto-Shuttle taking passengers a short journey around the town centre, while a two-person Auto-Pod transported visitors around the Castle grounds.

This was the first time self-driving vehicles had been deployed in rural communities and ensured that the specific needs and concerns of those living in rural areas could be understood and embedded in the design of new services.

The vehicles were provided by autonomous transport company Aurrigo and as per current UK regulation a safety supervisor was always on board, ready to take control should there be any requirement to do so.

Northumberland County Councillor John Riddle, Cabinet Member for Local Services, said: "We were very pleased this event came to our county and it was a fascinating experience to travel on the vehicles and learn about the cutting-edge technology they use.

"As it's the first time these self-driving vehicles have been trialled in a more rural area, it will be interesting to gather data about the needs local people have and the issues they face, compared to bigger towns and cities.

"A key driver in everything we do in Northumberland is ensuring it's as clean and green as possible and self-driving vehicles have the potential to be a real game changer in the near future.

It’s also really encouraging to see innovative and high-tech organisations trialling new technology here in Northumberland."

Lucy Farrow, Associate Partner at BritainThinks said: “The Britain Thinks team are delighted to be delivering this innovative research project in partnership with UCL and Aurrigo.

"It offers a unique opportunity to understand not just what people think of self-driving vehicles as they are now, but also their hopes and expectations for the future. This will provide crucial insight to government and industry to support the development of self-driving technology that benefits everyone across the UK.”
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