Two new partners have joined Greater Cambridge Partnership’s (GCP) self-driving vehicle project, Connector.

The Connector project, a pilot scheme to bring autonomous buses to Cambridge, uses state-of-the-art technology to give people more options about how they travel.

Following changes to the project, Alexander Dennis, the UK’s largest bus manufacturer, and Fusion Processing, a provider of Automated Drive Systems, have been invited to join the consortium.

The first self-driving vehicle is now set to start running in late Summer.

The Connector consortium, led by the Greater Cambridge Partnership, also includes Gamma Energy, IPG Automotive, dRISK and Stagecoach. The project is funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and industry partners.

The trial will start with a self-driving bus serving a route from the Madingley Road Park & Ride site around the University of Cambridge’s West Cambridge Campus and into Eddington.

The second part of the trial will involve three self-driving buses, provided by Alexander Dennis, operating services from the Trumpington Park & Ride and Babraham Park & Ride sites to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus from early 2025.

Both services will run in addition to the existing public transport in the city.

Cllr Elisa Meschini, chair of the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s executive board, said: “For Cambridge to thrive now and in the future, the area needs the infrastructure and mass public transport systems to cope with the demand – autonomous vehicles are one part of this solution.

“It will be really exciting to see what was once considered to be fanciful science fiction to be out on our roads giving people choice in how they travel so I look forward to seeing how the pilots go.”

Chris Gall, group engineering director for Alexander Dennis, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to join the Connector consortium with our Enviro100AEV autonomous electric bus.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to further the development of this technology with our partners as we continue to explore use cases where autonomous buses can improve operational efficiency and add flexibility to transport networks.”

Jim Hutchinson, chief executive of Fusion Processing, said: “Our CAVStar® Automated Drive System will provide the sensors, control modules and software that will allow the project vehicles to drive autonomously on the Cambridge routes, showcasing a safe and efficient new type of public transport system.”

All the self-driving buses will operate with a safety driver onboard for the duration of the trials.

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