The City of Sunderland has shared new details about its Sunderland Advanced Mobility Shuttle (SAMS) project, which it says will mark a key milestone in the city’s journey towards self-driving transportation while providing training opportunities and new skills.

Through SAMS, the City is aiming to enhance urban mobility and accessibility for residents and visitors – these operations are expected to commence in the spring, when the shuttle will begin transporting passengers. The project is led by Sunderland City Council in partnership with Aurrigo, Stagecoach, ANGOKA Ltd, Newcastle University, Swansea University and Boldyn Networks.

Following its recent arrival in Sunderland, SAMS will now shift its focus towards operator training and equipping shuttles with on-board safety attendants, who will oversee and manage their autonomous operations. While this training phase will start in April, further preparations are underway to commence the mapping of the shuttle’s route, a key step for SAMS in its goal to create a comprehensive, accurate, map of its operational area. By mapping the shuttle’s route, authorities aim to optimize its navigation capabilities and ultimately provide passengers with seamless travel experiences.

At launch, the SAMS project will trial three self-driving zero-emission shuttles designed by Aurrigo. Together, they will transport passengers on public roads between Sunderland Interchange, the University of Sunderland City Campus, and the Sunderland Royal Hospital. 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. While a safety operator will be behind the wheel at all times, the project will work to develop and demonstrate a cyber-secure remote supervision protocol – a key step towards commercial deployment.