York is seeking funding to trial a driverless electric shuttle that would help disabled people get around the city centre.
The city is bidding for £4m to trial a scheme that would help Blue Badge holders access pedestrianised streets without having to drive into the city, BBC News reports.
York’s narrow streets and cobbles pose a challenge for residents and visitors with impaired mobility.
According to the Yorkshire Post, the proposal is part of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Leeds City Region Future Mobility Zone plans – and could be a world first.
The bid – which has been submitted for government approval – says: “As part of the pilot proposed in York, we will trial and evaluate the role that automation can play in helping to reduce the longer term operating costs of demand responsive services, in this case through an electric, driverless solution.
“This unique proposal, targeted at customers with visible and hidden disabilities, will test for the first time automated solutions for these groups – learning that could be critical in addressing increasing Social Care and Special Education Needs transport in the future.”
Although the shuttles could be driverless, customer care assistants would accompany passengers, the authority explained.
James Gilchrist, assistant director for transport at City of York Council, said: “The proposal follows positive conversations at City Centre Access workshops, where the idea of an ‘on demand’ shuttle service from outside of the city centre was widely well received.
“If successful, the council will work with Blue Badge holders to ensure we develop a service which meets the needs of those with both visible and hidden disabilities.”