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Q What is the MultiCAV project?  MultiCAV is an integrated Mobility as A Service (MAAS) trial that brings together autonomous vehicles including shuttles, taxis, 12 metre buses and electric bikes, all accessible via one demand-driven platform.  
Q What are the project’s aims? 

The project is demonstrating the value of integrated MAAS solutions in in four distinct ways:

  • Challenging the dominance of car usage in a high-traffic area; 
  • Reducing reliance on the use of single/low-occupancy vehicles; 
  • Reducing overall congestion; 
  • and improving air quality 
By demonstrating the power of this technology, we hope to set a benchmark for what integrated MAAS solutions can achieve.
Q When will the first shuttle be ready to take passengers? We’re currently procuring the best vehicles on which to conduct the trial. After that procurement process concludes, we should begin testing in summer 2019 and hope to have vehicles in service by the end of this year or very early next year.
Q Who are the members of the MultiCAV consortium, and what is their involvement? First Group is leading this project and brings together a diverse range of partners from national government (Innovate UK), who are funding the trial, through to academia (University of the West of England) local government (Oxfordshire County Council, Vale of the White Horse District Council), MEPC (who are owners of Milton Park), vehicle manufacturer Arrival, software developer Zipabout and AV specialist consultants Nova Modus – all of whom are committed to delivering a project that provides high-quality results to develop the power of end-to-end MAAS solutions.   
Q Why have you chosen Milton Park as the location for this research project?

Given the cutting-edge businesses based at Milton Park, MEPC who operate the site, were keen to explore innovative solutions that cater to the high demand for transport to and from the site. We knew that as a partnership, we could offer them just that. There was a will from local councils to explore MAAS solutions.

Milton Park is adjacent to Didcot which was awarded ‘Garden Town’ status in 2015 – and with that has a mandate to develop low carbon transport. As Milton Park is such a large local employer, we believe our trial is a great way to do just that.

Q Who is funding the project?  The cost of the project £3.5 million – to which the largest contributor is Innovate UK. First Group, lead partner in the project are contributing £500,000 to this trial.
Q Will Brexit have an impact on this project? Although academia and innovation are transnational sectors, the project is based in the UK and its partners all have a presence here too. We do not anticipate Brexit would have a major impact on the development of this project.
Q What makes MultiCAV different from any other autonomous vehicle project?

Our project will be amongst the first to see autonomous vehicles licensed for use on public roads in the UK.

Although other autonomous vehicles have been used on roads around the world, this is the first time an integrated solution will be trialled in this way.

Q Is there a set period for the project to last? Subject to progress in the trial, we believe it will last for a total of 30 months, which means currently, it will conclude in 2021.
Q What will happen at the end of the project? Will the shuttles be removed? The future of the project and its vehicles depends on what data comes from the trial – in terms of overall demand for the service. Funding for the project is until 2021, however, we are committed to making this project as sustainable as possible and exploring options to see it extended.
Q How can I use the vehicle? As we get closer to carrying passengers, more details will be released via the Milton Park journey planner. The project will have a dedicated online portal through which travel can be booked.
Q How much will it cost to use the vehicle? Using vehicles in the trial is free, but part of the work we do will be exploring passengers’ willingness to pay to use a service like this.
Q Where will it take me and via what route? The transport provided as part of our project will be based on demand from passengers. What that means is that passengers choose their destinations en masse from a pre-defined set of destinations and then our vehicles take them there. By operating in this way, we’re taking people where they want to go, just in fewer vehicles.
Q Will the vehicle go to the station like the current shuttle bus does? Routes will be driven by demand identified and appropriate vehicles will be used to service the prevailing level of demand.
Q Is there a driver?

In the early stages of the trial, there will always be a person on board our vehicles, who can intervene in safety-critical situations. As time goes on and the reliability of our project becomes clearer it will be less necessary for each vehicle to have an operator on board.

Q What if the vehicle hits something? The vehicles that will be used for this project have an excellent safety track record. Our detailed procurement strategy means we will only use proven technology in this trial. Additionally, each vehicle has a manual override function to maximise safety as well as on-board operators.

In the event of any incident, our operators and other staff will be able to assist anyone who is involved.

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