UK’s first full-size autonomous bus service on the roads
The UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus is set to take to the roads of Scotland for the first time.
Live testing of the CAVForth project is to begin on Monday (25 April). Stagecoach, in partnership with Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland, will be carrying out on-road testing of the autonomous bus over the next two weeks 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 sensor and control technology, CAVstar, that 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 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. It will help to reduce journey times and improve journey time reliability for all buses of 24 seats or more on approach to Edinburgh.
Over 20 specially trained ‘Autonomous Bus Professionals’ are soon to be recruited by Stagecoach from across its East Scotland business. When the service goes live, these experienced bus drivers will monitor the autonomous system alongside a bus ‘Captain’ who will move around the saloon, talking to passengers about the service and answering any questions they may have, demonstrating what a future service might feel like when the staff member is able to leave the cab while the computer does the driving.