SAMS arrival press shot

A “new era of urban mobility” begins as self-driving shuttle arrives in Sunderland

Sunderland is set to embrace a new era of mobility with the arrival of the Sunderland Advanced Mobility Shuttle (SAMS), marking a significant milestone in the city's journey towards self-driving transportation.

Having arrived in the city a few days ago, SAMS represents a pioneering initiative aimed at revolutionising urban mobility and enhancing accessibility for residents and visitors alike. The shuttle will soon be transporting passengers when it takes to the streets this spring. 

Following its arrival, the focus now shifts towards operator training, equipping on-board safety attendants with the necessary skills to oversee and manage autonomous operations effectively. This training phase starts in April and underscores Sunderland's commitment to ensuring the safe integration of self-driving technology into its transportation ecosystem.

Moreover, preparations are underway to commence the mapping of the route, a crucial step towards creating a comprehensive and accurate map of SAMS' operational area. By meticulously mapping the shuttle's route, authorities aim to optimise its navigation capabilities and ensure seamless travel experiences for passengers.

The SAMS project will trial three self-driving zero emission autonomous shuttles, designed specifically for SAMS by Aurrigo, which will transport passengers on public roads between Sunderland Interchange, the University of Sunderland City Campus and the Sunderland Royal Hospital. 

Whilst safety operators will always be onboard, the project will develop and demonstrate a cyber secure remote supervision protocol, an important step towards commercial deployment. 

This ‘cutting-edge’ self-driving shuttle is poised to redefine transportation norms and pave the way for a smarter, more sustainable future in Sunderland and beyond. The shuttle will run along an intelligent transport corridor, enabled by 5G small cells which are being installed along the vehicle route by Boldyn Networks.

The project has been awarded £3m by the government and matched by industry to a total £6m. The SAMS initiative is one of six successful CAM Deployment UK projects from the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) Deployment competition. 

The grants, which are part of the CCAV’s “Connected and Automated Mobility” programme, are supported by CCAV, Innovate UK and Zenzic. The project is led by Sunderland City Council in partnership with Aurrigo, Stagecoach, ANGOKA Ltd, Newcastle University, Swansea University and Boldyn Networks.

Patrick Melia, chief executive at Sunderland City Council, commented: "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.”

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