Funding secured for automated transport link feasibility study by Solihull Council
The feasibility study will consider all aspects of the transport technology required in order to provide a safe and reliable automated public transport service in Solihull.
Credit: WMG, Warwick University - a new automated self-driving shuttle service.
Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council has announced that it has successfully secured £300,000 to explore how a new automated transport link between Blythe Valley Business Park, near Shirley, and the new HS2 rail station in Solihull could operate in the future.
The desk-based feasibility study will consider all aspects of the technology required in order to provide a safe and reliable automated public transport service between these important commercial centres. The proposed route would use the existing road network travelling along the M42 from Junction 4, and utilise the new Junction 5a that is currently under construction.
The project will be led by Solihull Council, who will be working closely with experts at National Highways, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and WMG, Warwick University, as well as ZF, Aurrigo, Syselek and Liftango.
Funding for the exciting project will come from the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), part of the UK Government’s Department for Transport (DfT) and is part of a national programme to identify and explore opportunities for the deployment of automated transport systems.
The award of funding is further endorsement of Solihull Council’s work to explore how automated transport might support a shift towards new emerging forms of shared public mobility. Already underway, the council is delivering a project exploring the feasibility of linking East Birmingham to North Solihull utilising automated transport systems, and also planning to trial a first-of-its-kind automated transport system linking the NEC with Birmingham Business Park.
This project is part of the wider Midlands Future Mobility (MFM) initiative, led by WMG, Warwick University. The MFM vision is to achieve zero road incidents, net-zero emissions and inclusive transport in the West Midlands. MFM enables stakeholders from across mobility to address the interlinked challenges of technology, policy, and behaviour to realise the vision.
Councillor Ken Hawkins, Solihull Council Cabinet Member for Environment & Infrastructure, said: “Connected Automated Vehicle (CAV) technology has the potential revolutionise the way that we get around our towns, cities and rural areas. Working with our partners, we are excited to be undertaking this latest project.
“We’ve already carried out a series of successful pathfinder trials here in Solihull, using our own automated shuttle, and have led the way in showing how it is possible to practically and safely incorporate automated vehicles into our existing transport infrastructure. We are now taking the next step and undertaking the vital feasibility work necessary in order to start thinking about more ambitious deployments and establishing new commercial public transport services.
“The outcomes from the study are likely to inform self-driving mobility challenges not just here in Solihull, but nationwide,” he concluded.
Jonathan Smith, Midlands Future Mobility Programme Manager at WMG, Warwick University, said: “The business case for scaling new mobility solutions is complex. It involves a granular understanding of the use case, safety, users, operations and infrastructure. This project brings together a group of diverse experts to apply state of the art research and knowledge to address this question. Of critical importance is that the outcomes of this feasibility will inform mobility business cases both in the Midlands and the UK as a whole.”
Aurrigo, Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), Department for Transport (DfT), Liftango, National Highways, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Syselek, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), UK Government, WMG Warwick University, ZF