Self-driving bus trial in Milton Keynes

Trial of shuttle service is part of Europe-wide LivingLAPT project – the longest and most geographically complex of its kind. 

We’ve covered self-driving buses before, such as the self-driving fleet that’s been running a 14-mile route in Scotland since May. The LivingLAPT project has run successful trials in Europe over the past two years (in Helmond, Hasselt, Kongberg and Ricany in 2022, and in Prague and Brno in the Czech Republic in 2023), but this new trial is on another scale altogether. 

Aurrigo automated shuttle bus in Milton Keynes

Photo courtesy of Milton Keynes City Council

In the busy city of Milton Keynes, the fully accessible electric shuttle bus will have to navigate multiple bus stops and carriageways for a far longer period. 

It can carry up to 15 passengers at a time and will run on a route looping round the city centre,  

To do so, the shuttle is fitted with five lidar sensors and seven cameras that create a fully 360-degree view around the vehicle. Even so, a human operator on board can take control at any time. 

The project is funded by EIT Urban Mobility and led by University College London (UCL). The shuttle bus will be operated by UK-based transport technology specialist Aurrigo. Operations will be monitored by the UCL research time, who will also interview passengers about the experience and how the service can be better developed. Local people are also invited to share their thoughts about self-driving services by filling in the online highly automated shuttle survey.  

As part of the project, the team will also test a new autonomous delivery shuttle at Stadium MK.  Operated by Bring Auto, this shuttle – which is about the size of a small car – uses a smart fleet management platform from Applied Autonomy to make deliveries around the stadium site over a two-week trial period. The system uses an external ordering system to fulfil orders without involving a human operator. 

Cllr Jennifer Wilson-Marklew, Cabinet Member for Climate Action and Sustainability, says: ‘Once again, Milton Keynes is at the forefront of a new, sustainable technology trial. We’ve proven again and again that the city is a brilliant destination for technology leaders to develop their plans into real world solutions. This important research into self-driving vehicles on public roads is creating a template for cities around the world to follow. We’ll work alongside University College London to ensure everyone benefits from the data they gather.’ 

Bani Anvar, Professor of Intelligent Mobility & Lead of LivingLAPT at UCL, adds: ‘Our European journey is pushing the boundaries of autonomous vehicles, aiming to reduce the need for human safety operators while fine-tuning the intricate balance of safety and trust. Pioneering research into the workload assessment of teleoperators stationed at control centres, has further enriched our activities. This 25-minute ride in Milton Keynes, where these self-driving vehicles seamlessly navigate complex city intersections, traffic signals, and diverse road users, is an exciting blend of cutting-edge science and automotive innovation.’ 

David Keene, CEO at Aurrigo, says: ‘Aurrigo are pleased to be returning to Milton Keynes to move the game on in autonomous electric vehicle deployments in real-world situations. We have worked in the city since 2018 and we appreciate working with a forward thinking, innovative city that is keen to demonstrate the benefits that can be brought to citizens of Milton Keynes and across the UK by a self-driving electric vehicle like the Auto-Shuttle.’ 

In related news:

Groceries delivered by robot in Wakefield

NHS helper bot trialled in Milton Keynes



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