Electric AVs Trialed in Manchester

Two fleets of electric autonomous vehicles with no controls or steering wheels are to be trialed in Manchester, north-west England.

Three AVs for the first phase of ‘Project Synergy’ are still being built by Westfield Technology Group. They will be used to shuttle passengers to the airport from the train station in the adjoining town of Stockport throughout December 2019 and January 2020. A £5M Innovate UK government grant is funding the trial, which is being staged in cooperation with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

The vehicles are called Westfield Pods on Demand (PoDs). They will have four to six seats and human back-up drivers on board who will apparently be unable to “control it entirely”. Westfield is inviting disabled people to trial the AVs to investigate whether they improve their access to the airport.

The second phase of Project Synergy involves deployment of a fleet of three electric, autonomous Grand Touring Mini (GTM) sports cars that will travel together from Stockport to Manchester Airport. The intention of running them together is apparently to reduce road congestion and energy expenditure. Unlike the PoDs, the GTMs will not be trialed by members of the public and their back-up drivers will be able to seize control of them if necessary.


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