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MultiCAV project partner perspectives on the Mi-Link autonomous bus services

Clark, Ben; Gangoiti, Xabier; Parkhurst, Graham

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Ben Clark
Associate Professor of Transport Planning and Engineering

Xabier Gangoiti


The MultiCAV research and development project, co-funded by Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), was established to deliver sustainable transport services in a ‘Mobility as a Service’ environment. The centrepiece of the project was a series of three phases of electric autonomous bus service trials, first operating on public roads within Milton Park Technology and Science Park, Didcot (Oxfordshire) and later linking to Didcot Parkway railway station. The demonstration services took place in 2023 and were branded to the public as part of the Mi-Link suite of transport services. The project was conducted by a consortium which brought together First Bus as lead, Milton Park, Oxfordshire County Council, Nova Modus, Fusion Processing, Zipabout, and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).
This report summarises consortium member reflections on the planning and operation of these novel autonomous bus services – the first of their kind on public roads in the UK.
Findings are presented from research activities which involved two rounds of one-to-one interviews with consortium members held 18 months into the project (in March 2020) and in the last six months of the project (in June and July 2023), and a stakeholder workshop (in July 2023) that brought together representatives of most consortium partners to share perspectives on the experiences of developing the demonstration bus services.
It is found that consortium members were motivated to take part in the project as it aligned with objectives to (i) develop their knowledge and capacity in relation to producing and delivering autonomous bus vehicles and services and (ii) to strengthen and project their organisation’s reputation for innovation and sustainability.
The technology is seen as continuing to mature, with some changes needed in the built environment to assist operation. Partnership working emerges as critical, both in developing applications of the technology, but also for operations, which are by their nature more complex than human-driven bus services. Consortium members explained that the autonomous bus service trials had at the same time exceeded and not met the expectations that they held at the outset of the project. Given the complex nature of the project these perspectives are not inconsistent.
Recommendations are made in respect of promoting the ecosystem (supply chain, regulations) and resilient and reliable operations in the future.


Clark, B., Gangoiti, X., & Parkhurst, G. (2024). MultiCAV project partner perspectives on the Mi-Link autonomous bus services. Bristol: Innovate UK / Centre for Connected Automated Vehicles

Report Type Project Report
Online Publication Date Mar 27, 2024
Publication Date Mar 27, 2024
Deposit Date Apr 15, 2024
Publicly Available Date Apr 15, 2024
Keywords Autonomous Vehicles, Public Transport, Automated Bus Services, Partner Perspectives
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MultiCAV project partner perspectives on the Mi-Link autonomous bus services (1.5 Mb)

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