£6m self-driving bus serves Sunderland Royal Hospital 

Three autonomous, zero emission Sunderland Advanced Mobility Shuttles (SAMS) will take to the city’s streets this spring.

A trial is about to start of an autonomous bus service that is hoped will lead to full commercial deployment, transforming Sunderland’s transport infrastructure for the better while establishing a successful model that can then be replicated by cities across the country and abroad.

Photo of new SAMS automated bus service, courtesy of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust

Photo courtesy of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust

The initial phase involves mapping the 5km route to be taken by the SAMS service through the city centre, linking the hospital with Sunderland Interchange and the University of Sunderland’s city campus. Each shuttle will then run along an ‘intelligent transport corridor’ (ITC) using 5G small cells which are being installed along the route by Boldyn Networks.  

The shuttles themselves have been provided by design, engineering and manufacturing company Aurrigo. 

Each will have a safety operator onboard. Training will begin next month so that operators can oversee and manage the autonomous service.  

The project is led by Sunderland City Council in partnership with Aurrigo, Stagecoach, ANGOKA Ltd, Newcastle University, Swansea University and Boldyn Networks. 

The government provided £3m for the project, matched by industry to achieve a £6m budget in total. It’s one of six initiatives to receive funding through the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), which runs a Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) programme supported by Innovate UK and Zenzic. 

Patrick Melia, Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council, says: ‘As we prepare to welcome the Sunderland Advanced Mobility Shuttle to our city streets, we are embarking on an exciting journey towards a more connected and sustainable future. 

‘SAMS represents a significant leap forward in our efforts to embrace innovation and improve the quality of life for our residents. We look forward to seeing the positive impact this self-driving shuttle will have on urban mobility across Sunderland.’ 

Cllr Dorothy Trueman, Mayor of Sunderland, adds: ‘We are thrilled to welcome the innovative SAMS shuttle to Sunderland, marking the beginning of a new era in urban mobility for our residents and visitors. 

‘The arrival of SAMS signifies Sunderland and the wider region’s position as a forward-thinking location, leading the way in adopting transformative technologies that enhance the lives of our community members.’ 

Richard Fairchild, Chief Operations Officer at Aurrigo, says: ‘Collaborating with technology leaders at Sunderland City Council and other project partners to develop plans into real-world solutions is a significant step forward in research for self-driving vehicles operating on public roads. 

‘With the arrival of the SAMS shuttle, Sunderland is poised to emerge as a trailblazer in the realm of self-driving transportation, setting a precedent for other cities to follow in the quest for smarter, more efficient mobility solutions.’

In related news:

Lots more e-scooters for Salford

‘Tap and take-off’ charging for electric aircraft

Bookable loading bays for EVs in London 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top