Sunday, 3 November 2019

East Midlands will benefit from autonomous transport revolution

The way that people and goods move about will be radically transformed thanks to the progress being made with autonomous transport alternatives. The technology driving this change is closer than most people think. But the region needs to respond quicker to take advantage of it.


This is the focus of discussions at an event at MIRA on Monday 4 November as part of the Leicester Business Festival. Experts from the world of transport, including planners, strategists, operators and developers will share their thoughts on the future of human mobility and regional connectivity.

Highlights include a presentation from Uber on automated logistics, MIRA research facility discussing electric vehicles and cyber security, while sub-national transport body Midlands Connect will outline future transport demand in the region to 2068.

VCRO, a Derby-based firm currently developing the Neoxcraft, which will revolutionise short journeys by air, will present a progress update on bringing this product to market. East Midlands Airport’s Managing Director, Karen Smart, will outline how future technology will give passengers more control over their travel experience and improve processes for both people and goods.


The event is jointly organised by East Midlands Airport and Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited (LLEP) as part of the two-week annual Leicester Business Festival.

Radically new transport solutions will not only transform the way that individuals move around but could also improve regional connectivity.

Connectivity is the catalyst for the growth of economic activity in the local area. This is most apparent around East Midlands Airport where the new East Midlands Gateway and rail freight interchange is taking shape, but also elsewhere including the recent announcement of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) setting up its global logistics hub at junction 11 of the A42. Proximity to the airport was cited as one of the reasons for JLR choosing this location.

The way that transport connectivity has developed in the past will be very different in the future. Car ownership will shift with a move from petrol and diesel to electric, and become increasingly more automated. While the technology for electrically powered aircraft will be a reality within 10 years for short-haul passenger flights and some air-taxi services.

In her speech to the event, Karen Smart, Managing Director of East Midlands Airport will call for an improved transport network which will better connect the region’s key assets such as the airport to neighbouring towns and cities and major employment sites. She says: “The geographical challenges of this region make genuine connectivity quite difficult. Therefore, existing technologies may not deliver the transport network we need. Innovative thinking and new transport technologies may be the answer. In the East Midlands we have such a wealth of transport history, knowledge and expertise, so it shouldn’t be beyond us to develop our own transport network that is the envy of other parts of the UK and the world.”

Kevin Harris, Chair of the LLEP, acknowledges that with the rapid pace of development in new automated technology, the region has a golden opportunity to seize this opportunity which will benefit communities and businesses. He says: “The East Midlands is a region which prides itself in making and moving things using state of the art technology. Whether that’s advanced manufacturers pioneering new aero technology, life-sciences or food producers – combine this with the golden triangle of world-class logistics operators we have in Leicestershire, the foundations are already in place to harness the transformative impact that new technology will have on transport.”

More information about the event which starts at 10am at MIRA Technology Institute can be found on the Leicester Business Festival website.




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