An automated shuttle service is coming to Northern Ireland after the Belfast Harbour-led project received £11m in funding.
The Harlander project will see a fully driverless transport system from the Titanic Quarter railway station to the Catalyst Science Park on Queen’s Island. The service will be accessible to residents, visitors, and employees of the various businesses in the area.
The project launch has been confirmed for next year following the securing of funding from both the government and industry investors. Government agency Innovate UK will provide £5.5m as part of its wider plan to boost investments into autonomous vehicle projects in the UK.
“In just a few years’ time, the business of self-driving vehicles could add tens of billions to our economy and create tens of thousands of jobs across the UK,” said Business Secretary Grant Shapps.
“The support we are providing today will help our transport and technology pioneers steal a march on the global competition, by turning their bright ideas into market-ready products sooner than anyone else.”
Belfast Harbour is leading the development and will be backed by a consortium of partners, including REE Automotive, Angoka, BT, and Horiba Mira.
“Belfast Harbour has a long track record of delivering and supporting innovation, so we are delighted to be establishing the UK’s first operationally ready and commercially viable deployment of a fully automated shuttle service on publicly accessible roads within the Harbour Estate,” said Mike Dawson, people and corporate services director at Belfast Harbour.
“This announcement supports our Smart Port ambitions and shows our commitment to the development of Belfast’s Innovation District.”
Last year, the government set a timeline for the autonomous vehicle rollout in the UK. The document claimed that fully automated vehicles could be on the road by 2025.