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Project Synergy

Project Synergy
Manchester, United Kingdom
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Project details


The POD shuttle service is operated by Public Transport Operator (PTO) Transfor for Great Manchester (TfGM) around Manchester Airport, taking visitors from the transport interchange to the terminals and also connecting the hotels and car parks at Airport City with the terminals. The POD shuttles operate on a circular route and are wheelchair accessible. The exact route for the pods around the airport is yet to be confirmed.

The GTMs (kit sports cars) will connect Stockport station to Manchester airport using the newly build A6 Manchester Airport Relief Road. The route followed by the autonomous GTMs goes from Stockport Railway Station to Manchester Airport via the A6 and then onto the A555 (Manchester Airport Eastern Link). The electric GTM car is a two seater and is not wheelchair accessible.

The PODs and GTMs will test platooning on their routes in two different environments: private roads at the airport and live highway with mixed traffic.

The timeline from February 2019 looks as follows: February 2019 – Simulation and Urban modelling
March 2019 – Virtual Concierge Platform Development April 2019 – GTM & POD Build
April 2019 – Platoon Methodology and Strategy
April 2019 – Platoon Infrastructure Complete
July 2019 – January 2020 – Trials
March 2020 – Policy Framework Delivered


The objective of this project is to understand how connected and autonomous vehicles can help address key transport challenges and opportunities within Greater Manchester. Project Synergy is TfGM’s autonomous vehicle pilot that aims to tackle key transport challenges within Greater Manchester including accessibility, mobility, traffic congestion and air pollution by using innovative technologies linked to new and emerging business models such as Freight-as-a-Service (“FaaS”) and Mobility-as-a-Service, ("MaaS"). This encompasses deploying platoons of three electric powered GTM sports cars to travel 10km, from Stockport train station to terminal 2 of Manchester Airport (and vice versa), via a newly developed section of the A6 dual carriageway, and three autonomous pods to ferry passengers from a car park to the passenger terminals of Manchester airport over a distance of 2km.

Budget & Financing

The budget of this project is £5m for a 30 month project. It is an Innovate UK financed project.

© TfGM. Project Synergy.

© TfGM. Project Synergy.

Regulatory Framework

2013 National Infrastructure Plan: review legislative and regulatory framework to enable the trialling of driverless cars on UK roads.

2017 ‘The Pathway to Driverless Cars’ (DfT): “… the UK is uniquely positioned to become a premium location globally for the development of these technologies. Those wishing to conduct tests are not limited to the test track or certain geographical areas, and do not need to obtain certificates or permits. Provided they have insurance arranged, they are not required to provide a surety bond.”

2018 Autonomous and Electric Vehicles Bill received Royal Assent

Policy Delivery - Funding

2014 Four cities trials: delivering robust town/city-based consortia that are capable of proving how driverless vehicles will be integrated in a real-world environment.

2015 CAV 1: encourage development of CAV

2016 CAV 2: technical solutions for CAV features that will provide real-world benefits to users.

2017 CAV 3: business opportunities or real customer problems, with a clear commercial benefit.

2018 CAV 4: holistic simulation and modelling solutions.

Policy Delivery – Emerging Frameworks

• CCAV established in 2015 (BEIS-DfT) to work with industry, academia and regulators to “secure the UK’s position at the forefront of this change for the safe development, production and use of this technology”.
• Transport Systems Catapult: market forecasting, CAVLab research platform, ecosystem development. Regulatory change

Regulatory change
• Ongoing regulatory change: review, Code of Practice for Testing, Autonomous and Electric Vehicles Act (2018) and Law Commissions Consultation


Integrating the learning from other ongoing UK projects. The rest of the challenges will be determined at the end of the project.

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7 words explained


Also known as flocking. A collection of (automated) vehicles that travel together, actively coordinated in formation. Platoons decrease the distances between vehicles using electronic, and possibly mechanical, coupling. Platooning allows many vehicles to accelerate or brake simultaneously.

urban setting

High density environment with an efficient high capacity public transport system with good capillarity and high frequencies.

suburban setting

Medium density environment with a good public transport system with radial connections to the city center, but lower capillarity and frequencies. This setting includes suburban cities.

small cities

Small, isolated city with an own public transport system and <100K inhabitants.


Low-density environment, small cities and villages with poor public transport services mainly connecting the villages.

SAE level

The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) levels define the level of vehicle autonomy, or in other words, how much human intervention is still needed for an automated vehicle to operate. Currently, five SAE levels have been defined: Level 0: Automated system issues warnings and may momentarily intervene but has no sustained vehicle control. Level 1 (hands on): Driver and automatic system share vehicle control. The driver must be ready to retake full control at any time. Level 2 (hands off): The automated system takes full control of the vehicle (accelerating, braking, and steering). The driver must monitor the driving and be prepared to intervene immediately at any time if the automated system fails to respond properly. Level 3 (eyes off): The automated system takes full control of the vehicle (accelerating, braking, and steering). The driver must monitor the driving and be prepared to intervene immediately at any time if the automated system fails to respond properly. Level 4 (mind off): As level 3, but no driver attention is ever required for safety, e.g. the driver may safely go to sleep or leave the driver's seat. Level 5 (steering wheel optional): No human intervention is required at all. An example would be a robotic taxi.


Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication is the passing of information from a vehicle to any entity that may affect the vehicle, and vice versa.