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UK’s first full-size self-driving bus takes to the roads

Posted on 22 May 2022 and read 454 times
UK’s first full-size self-driving bus takes to the roadsThe UK’s first full-size autonomous bus took to the roads of Scotland for the first time at the end of last month, as live testing began for Project CAVForth. Stagecoach, in partnership with Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland, carried out on-road testing of the bus over a two-week period in preparation for the launch of the CAVForth pilot service in late summer.

The Project CAVForth pilot, which is jointly funded by the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), will see five single-deck autonomous buses operating at SAE Level 4 over the Forth Road Bridge between Ferrytoll Park and Ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park Train and Tram interchange.

The buses are fitted with Fusion Processing’s CAVstar sensor and control technology, which enables them to run on pre-selected roads without the safety driver having to intervene or take control. The buses will provide a service capable of carrying up to 36 passengers over the 14 miles across the bridge, with a capacity for over 10,000 passengers a week.

The on-road testing in Scotland follows successful depot-based trials, track testing and virtual simulation where the buses have been put through their paces to fine tune the autonomous drive systems.

To help support the delivery of Project CAVForth, Transport Scotland recently opened a section of ‘Actively Managed Hard Shoulder’ for all buses on the M8 eastbound, the aim being to help to reduce journey times and improve journey time reliability for all buses of 24 seats or more on their approach to Edinburgh.

As part of Project CAVForth, around 500 members of the public have helped, providing feedback on what would make them feel comfortable and confident in travelling. Building on the feedback received, the partners have developed a vision for the new autonomous vehicles, which includes making sure future autonomous bus services still have a member of staff on board.

Sam Greer, Stagecoach’s regional director for Scotland, said: “Stagecoach is continuing to look for ways to improve the service it offers to customers, including through major investment in new technology, such as the CAVForth pilot.

“This is a hugely exciting project for Scotland, and we are pleased to be live testing. This is a major step forward in our journey to fully launch the UK’s first full-size autonomous bus service, and it will provide easy access to a brand-new bus route in the heart of East Scotland.”