One of the UK’s leading autonomous technology specialists is returning to Milton Keynes -nine years after it first deployed its 4-seater driverless pods in the city.

Aurrigo International plc, which employs nearly 100 people at its advanced engineering centre in Coventry, will be trialling its Auto-Shuttle vehicle on a city centre loop connecting Santander’s new UK HQ at Unity Place with centre:mk, the Theatre District and Station Square. Running throughout November, the testing is part of the LivingLAPT project that is funded by EIT Urban Mobility and led by University College London (UCL).

The Europe-wide research trials have already been operating in Prague and Brno in the Czech Republic and are the longest and most geographically complex of its kind. “We are delighted to be returning to Milton Keynes to move the game on in autonomous electric vehicle deployments in real-world situations,” explained David Keene, CEO of Aurrigo International plc.

“The city was one of the first to work with us on trialling driverless vehicles in 2014 and we appreciate working with a forward-thinking location that is keen to demonstrate the benefits that can be brought to the citizens of Milton Keynes and the UK by a self-driving electric vehicle like ours.” Auto-Shuttle, which carries up to 8 passengers, uses five lidar sensors and seven cameras to create a full 360-degree view around the vehicle and navigate safely along public roads.

It will have an operator on board, capable of taking control at any time. UCL’s research team will be in Milton Keynes to monitor the trials and to take feedback from users on how the service cane be developed to meet passenger needs.

“Once again, Milton Keynes is at the forefront of a new, sustainable technology trial,” added Councillor Jennifer Wilson-Marklew, Cabinet Member for Climate Action and Sustainability.

“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.”

Aurrigo’s Auto-Shuttle will travel a 25-minute loop in Milton Keynes, seamlessly navigating complex city intersections, traffic signals, and diverse road users. Bani Anvari, Professor of Intelligent Mobility & Lead of LivingLAPT at UCL, concluded: “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.”