Autonomous vehicle pilot development update from HITRANS
Progress has been made on the PAV project after an initial meeting with the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to discuss the potential for a pilot at Inverness Campus. Inverness Campus has been identified as a suitable location for an AV trial as it fits well with the strategic vision of the area to promote multi-modal travel and move away from private car use. Piloting at Inverness Campus would also be complementary to the pilot in the PAV project in Hannover, Germany, trialling an autonomous shuttle bus between a tram stop and a new university campus. HITRANS is working on an Implementation Plan covering ambitions and scale of the pilot, infrastructure requirements, review of legislation, local financing mechanisms, governance models and a risk management plan.
The intended launch is Summer 2021 if delivery timescales and COVID restrictions allow. HITRANS has provided HIE with an overview of the project to share with the Inverness Campus Owners Association and other stakeholders as we explore the next steps. In partnership with Robert Gordon University, HITRANS is also investigating a secondary pilot opportunity which would test micro CAV vehicles in Orkney. The use case is still under development and will be for logistics or related use rather than for moving people.
The Inverness Campus pilot will run for a number of weeks and carry six or twelve passengers. A driver will be on board to take over if needed. If in the future driverless technology can happen it would be highly beneficial for providing forms of public transport in rural areas.
The campus is popular with walkers, cyclists and many recreational users and we are keen to improve access to and from the campus by providing alternatives to car use and extending the low-carbon travel options that have formed part of the development from the outset. HITRANS has looked at a number of companies who supply autonomous vehicles, including Easymile the French firm Navya, for the Inverness driverless bus project.