Driving the future of sustainable mobility

powered by

Britain’s first self-driving shuttle bus hits the streets, but scares passengers away

It's ugly and terrifying

Britain’s first self-driving shuttle bus hits the streets, but scares passengers away
Ioanna Lykiardopoulou
Story by

Ioanna Lykiardopoulou

Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives. Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives.

Last Thursday, Britain‘s first autonomous shuttle was launched in Cambridge, where it drove around the university campus as part of its first testing, METRO reports.

Although you’d expect that its autonomous function would be in the spotlight, there’s another feature which undoubtedly steals the show: its extremely ugly appearance.

Credit: Greater Cambridge Partnership

Doesn’t it remind you of one of those insects with exoskeletons that are so terrifying to look at? Or maybe of a destructive and angry Transformer that could easily be named “Shuttle-tron”? And the British flag paint job doesn’t really help, does it?

Credit: Greater Cambridge Partnership

The shuttle’s monstrous look didn’t go unnoticed on Twitter.

While the shuttle’s front end is about as visually appealing as a monster bug, its design is also being criticized for how potentially dangerous it is. 

Appearance aside, here are some details about the bus. The all-electric Auto-Shuttles, developed by the engineering firm Aurrigo, can travel at speeds of up to 32 kilometers (20 miles) per hour and have a range of 160 kilometers (200 miles). They can carry 10 passengers on a single journey.

The Auto-Shuttles are capable of driving themselves, but safety operators will be behind the wheel to take control at any point, if needed. The self-driving buses will drive alongside regular traffic and their trials will start in June.

Credit: Greater Cambridge Partnership

Ultimately, this is a promising initiative for the UK to incorporate autonomous tech within its public transportation system, and we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But one question remains: how are people going to trust an autonomous vehicle when it looks so aggressive and unwelcoming?


Do EVs excite your electrons? Do ebikes get your wheels spinning? Do self-driving cars get you all charged up? 

Then you need the weekly SHIFT newsletter in your life. Click here to sign up.

Also tagged with