Self-driving vehicle software developer Oxa and transport solution specialist Eversum have announced their first joint rollout of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology with autonomous electric shuttle buses.
The 40-passenger vehicles are set to be delivered to the Innovation District in Northern Ireland’s Belfast Harbour Estate, plus tourist attractions such as the Titanic Belfast exhibition.
Named the Harlander Project, the £11m scheme is part-funded by Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV). It forms a key part of the area’s sustainable transport plan as tourist and visitors are expected to increase significantly in coming years.
What’s more, the project is part of Belfast Harbour’s strategy to enhance local infrastructure with next-generation technology.
The vehicles are expected to be available for public use by 2025, with software being provided by Oxa and hardware by Eversum.
“We are thrilled to announce our participation in the Harlander Project, a groundbreaking initiative backed by the UK government,” said Ben Jardine, chief product officer and CEO, Eversum UK.
“The project strengthens the recent partnership announced with Oxa and it will propel Eversum’s growth. With Harlander, and with Oxa, we are laying the foundations for commercialising autonomous driving passenger transport across the UK and far beyond.”
Oxa Driver, a full stack of software components which can be integrated into any vehicle, will operate the vehicles to enable self-driving.
According to its developer, the system is highly modular and customisable and can be retrofitted as a complete solution or integrated into co-developed autonomy solutions.
The Eversum e-shuttle is a mid-sized, low-floor accessible bus designed to limit noise and air pollution. Those rolled out as part of the Belfast project will all have a human safety operator on board.
Mike Dawson, people and digital transformation director at Belfast Harbour, added: “Belfast Harbour has a long track record of delivering and supporting innovation, so we are delighted to be working with Oxa and Eversum to deliver the UK’s first operationally ready and commercially viable automated shuttle service on publicly accessible roads within the Harbour Estate.
“This partnership supports our Smart Port ambitions and shows our commitment to the development of Belfast’s Innovation District.”
The pair announced their partnership to design, develop and produce shared autonomous passenger vehicles last month [October 2023].
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