Reinventing the wheel – Milton Keynes establishes itself as a global leader for smart mobility

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Milton Keynes Council and partners, part of forward thinking consortium ‘UK Autodrive’, have won £9m of funding through  the UK Government’s ‘Introducing Driverless Cars’ competition announced by Innovate UK on 3 December.

The funding will contribute to a £20m project that involves Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and the engineering consultancy Arup among others, and will test both self-drive cars on the road as well as self-driving pods designed for pedestrianised areas.

The project will deliver a fleet of around 40 self-driving pods units that will allow a real service model to be tested in Milton Keynes.

The aim of the three year project is to establish the UK as a global hub for the development of autonomous vehicle technologies and to integrate driverless vehicles into existing urban environments. It will see research teams test public reaction to the autonomous vehicles around Milton Keynes, and carry out real testing on public roads and footpaths. The project will not only raise Milton Keynes' profile as the best place to innovate for transport in the UK, but also the global profile of the UK’s capability to innovate as a whole.

Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of Milton Keynes Council, said: “The awarding of these funds shows that Milton Keynes is one of the world leaders in transport innovation and research. The scheme has the potential to change the way transport works and bring real benefits to both the city and our citizens. Milton Keynes has established itself as a leading centre for low carbon and intelligent autonomous mobility and is the home of the Transport Systems Catapult and the LUTZ autonomous pods project. The council is delighted to be part of this high quality consortium that is leading the way for the UK and will also help develop new transport solutions for Milton Keynes.   

“This funding is not to just trial a new and exciting technology; its aim is to roll out a completely working service across Milton Keynes in three years which will provide residents with a more convenient, cheaper and environmentally aware mode of public transport which residents can use to make bespoke journeys.”

The project will build on the driverless pods scheme started by the Milton Keynes-based Transport Systems Catapult. The awarding of these funds is part of Milton Keynes Council’s Future City strategy that includes the MK:Smart project with BT that is being led by The Open University. The aim is to develop innovative solutions to support long-term economic growth in Milton Keynes.

Geoff Snelson, Director of Strategy at Milton Keynes Council was recently able to showcase Milton Keynes’ expertise as a city and centre of innovation excellence at the 2014 World Smart City Expo and Congress in Barcelona. His presentation was well attended and provoked lively discussion. He said: “Winning this funding is a great result for Milton Keynes and our top class partners. Driverless transport is just one of the exciting innovations and new technologies that we will be introducing in the future to make Milton Keynes an even smarter city.”