A driverless shutte sevice is to carry passengers and goods across Belfast’s Harbour Estate, reports the BBC. The ‘Harlander’ project will transport people between the city’s Titanic Quarter railway station and the nearby Catalyst Science Park, via important desinations including the Titanic Belfast visitor experience and Belfast Metropolitan College.
The Government is providing £5.5m for the project, matched by industry to make a total £11m. The project is expected to be developed between 2023 and 2024, and start public service late in 2024. It is funded via grants from the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles’ Connected and Automated Mobility programme, designed to help British companies develop experimental projects into offerings ready for the market.
People and Corporate Services Director at Belfast Harbour Mike Dawson welcomed the announcement. He told the BBC: “The city’s innovation district has enormous potential for growth and we at Belfast Harbour want to play our part in helping to build an innovation ecosystem that brings investment into the economy. Electrified connected and automated vehicles offer a route to provide a clean, efficient and affordable public transport that aligns with net zero targets and provides connectivity to other modes of transport.”
Business Secretary Grant Shapps said that self-driving vehicles had the potential to add tens of billions of pounds to the UK economy and create tens of thousands of jobs. He said the project, and ones like it, represent a ‘massive opportunity’ to drive forward the economy.