Sustainable self-driving shuttle launched at Birmingham Airport

Autoshuttle at BHX: Cllr Ian Courts, Nick Barton, Henriette Breukelaar

A self-driving shuttle will take to the roads around Birmingham Airport in the latest test of Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) in the region.

The Solihull council-led project became the first local authority in the country to purchases its own fully-electric autonomous shuttle using a £250,000 grant from the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP).

The zero-emissions Auto-ShuttleÒ which can carry up to ten passengers was designed and manufactured by Coventry’s Aurrigo. It uses a host of sensors including LiDAR, to understand its surroundings and move around safely.

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council, said: “CAV technology has the potential to revolutionise the way we get around our towns, cities and rural areas as well as transport goods.

“Already one of the best-connected destinations in the UK and Europe, Birmingham Airport is the perfect place to trial our shuttle, providing the CAV with a busy, but controlled environment in which to gain further real-world operating experience.

“The results of our trials will inform our future mobility services and highway infrastructure design across Solihull and the wider region, including the integration across the UK Central Hub including the HS2 Interchange at Arden Cross.”

The shuttle will be used to transport passengers around a longer and much more complex route at Birmingham Airport while again interacting with other road users. The trial route will provide Airport staff with a new temporary service linking the Departures entrance and Diamond House to Car Park 5.

For the purposes of testing, the shuttle will be limited to a top speed of 20mph. In line with current legislation, a safety operator will be on-board at all times that will have the ability to take control of the shuttle at any point if required.

Nick Barton, Chief Executive, Birmingham Airport: “Autonomous technology promises enormous benefits to airports and the service companies that support them, with the potential to transform the way we work and improve efficiency and safety, for passengers, staff and other airport users.

“We are really excited to be working with Solihull Council on this trial, which will provide us with invaluable insight into how we can start to safely incorporate CAVs into our vehicle fleet. This trial of fully electric vehicles, and testing their capabilities on-site, is making sure we are working towards our net-zero carbon target by 2033.”

Miles Garner, Sales & Marketing Director at autonomous shuttle manufacturer Aurrigo: “Aviation is a major opportunity for Aurrigo, with a genuine desire to find new technologies that can improve the passenger experience. This could be through our driverless shuttles, our Auto-Sim modelling software or it could be through our Auto-Dolly cargo/luggage dolly that can replace the traditional tugs that are commonplace in airports all over the world.

“We’ve recently completed projects at Changi Airport in Singapore and Gerald R. Ford International in North America, putting the UK on the global map for autonomous technology deployment.”