The future of transport is here now in Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire is well on the road to a cleaner, ‘connected’ and more intelligent transport future and, thanks to work being supported by the county council, so is the rest of the UK.
The future of transport lies in driverless cars, alternative fuels and power sources and a “connected” world where communication technology helps people get from A to B safely and efficiently.
From developing driverless cars to planning for zero-emission zones and installing power points for the next generation of cleaner cars, Oxfordshire County Council has a hand in supporting a wide-range of exciting local businesses and projects.
See the future now in Oxfordshire
But far from being about developments forever on the horizon, things are already happening right now.
Eagle-eyed visitors to Oxford may have seen the DRIVEN branded driverless cars travelling in and around Oxford for some time. Recently, as you will see in the video, one of the vehicles took to Frideswide Square and other city-centre roads.
Transport solutions come in different forms and recently the county council has worked closely with communities on the edge of Oxford to look at developing mobility options. This has worked really well and helped inform Oxford Bus’ roll out their new on demand bus service “Pick-me-up” – which shows putting in the resources to get community engagement to look in depth at a problem can have real impact and inform new commercial led solutions to their problems.
Smart Oxford, Smart Oxfordshire
The county council is a major player in the Smart Oxford project – a partnership of public and private sector organisations that are building a stronger, safer, economically and environmentally sustainable city.
And, because of its central role in unlocking funding and bringing people together, the county council is gaining a national profile sharing its experiences across the UK.
Oxfordshire is also one of the best-performing and most innovative areas in England and has unique assets to support growth in the national economy. A significant regional economy, Oxfordshire contributes £21.9 billion a year to national output.
This success is something that looks set to continue. Between 2011 and 2016, employment in Oxfordshire grew at 2.4 times the rate of its population, and employment in high tech sectors grew at 15.6%.
It is home to Oxford University, ranked number 1 in Europe for both research and commercialisation, large government investments (more than £2Bn in internationally leading scientific facilities), especially at Harwell and Culham, leading industry clusters in life sciences, scientific instrumentation and motorsport, and the largest investment fund for university spin-outs globally
£2.7m cash for real-world digital replica
Only this week a trailblazing county council-supported project that will develop a ‘Virtual Twin’ world for a type of driverless car – known as Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) – has been awarded £2.7m by the Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.
This digital replica of the real world will provide a testbed for new driverless cars so that they can be thoroughly trialled and accredited before they take to the streets.
England’s number one
Oxfordshire has also been named in a recent report by Arcadis as the number one region in England for economic growth potential – ahead of Cambridge, Manchester and London – and behind only Edinburgh in the UK.
This is due, in part, to the amazing range of technology-based companies in the county. Oxfordshire is currently home to an internationally recognised cluster of ‘big science’ and research facilities - over 1,500 high tech businesses - and a highly skilled workforce.
Llewellyn Morgan, the county council’s service manager for infrastructure, innovation and development, said: “Rising to the challenge of transport is key to Oxfordshire continuing to grow and benefit from thriving economy.
“You can look at Oxford city in two ways. The traditional view is that it is made up of roads that are too narrow and winding to be fit for the future. But the way we see them is as the ideal environment to test and develop technology that can really make a massive difference.
“Transport is one of the major challenges for Oxfordshire and many other areas trying to fulfil their potential, which is fortunate as we are home to world-leading engineers, developers and cutting-edge technology companies, not to mention Oxford University which is ranked number top in Europe for research and commercialisation.
“Oxfordshire is globally renowned as a centre of science and innovation and one of the top five innovation ecosystems in the world, but rankings don’t mean a great deal without things happening out there in our communities and on the county’s roads.”