Transport group will lead goverment-backed ‘MultiCAV’ project, offering autonomous pods for journeys to and from high-tech hub near Didcot


FirstGroup has already trialled CAVs in the US


FirstGroup will lead the first mainstream use of fully connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) in the UK.

The government announced its approval for the scheme last week, and an award of £2.5m of funding. The project will see self-driving vehicles introduced in and around Milton Park, a large, high-tech business and science hub near Didcot. The vehicles will travel between private roads at Milton Park and public roads that link the site with nearby transport services.

The 30-month MultiCAV project will be undertaken by a consortium of organisations with different sector backgrounds, led by bus and train operator FirstGroup. The transport group already has autonomous vehicle experience in the US where it has partnered with GoMentum Station, a California-based proving ground, to carry out research with shared CAVs (PT164).

Despite being relatively close to Didcot Parkway station, most travel to and from Milton Park is currently made in private vehicles, It is hoped that by the end of the trial up to 50% of private vehicle journeys within the business park will switch to using the shared, electric-powered pods.

Commuters will see a tangible reason to leave their cars at home

John Birtwistle, project lead for FirstGroup, said: “We’re excited to be leading the first mainstream use of autonomous vehicles in the UK. By connecting the Milton Park development with the existing regional transport infrastructure, including Great Western Railway trains at Didcot Parkway station, commuters will see a tangible reason to leave their cars at home.

“It’s a huge step towards tackling the problem of congestion on our roads and enabling the sustainable future development of the business park and, potentially, other similar sites in the future.


This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!