UK’s first full-size, autonomous zero-emission bus on roads
First Bus is operating an autonomous Switch Mobility MetroCity 1080EV electric single-decker in Didcot. The operator says it is the UK’s full-size single-decker bus with autonomous driving and producing zero-carbon emissions to take to the road in the UK.
Operated on First Bus’ Mi-Link 003 service, the 28-seater is carrying passengers between Didcot Parkway train station and Milton Park. The service runs every 30 minutes from 7am-6.30pm Monday to Saturday until the trial’s conclusion on Saturday 30 September.
The autonomous drive capability is provided by Fusion Processing’s CAVstar Automated Drive System which includes an intelligent controller and high-performance processor combined with range of sensors including radar, LiDAR and cameras to control steering, acceleration and braking without the need for human intervention. A safety driver is onboard at all times to provide a personalised service and information to passengers.
“We’re leading the way in bringing a revolutionary bus travel experience to more people” – John Birtwistle, Head of Policy at First Bus
John Birtwistle, Head of Policy at First Bus and leading the MultiCAV consortium delivering the service, said: “We’re leading the way in bringing a revolutionary bus travel experience to more people and delivering this with an innovative and green approach to the future of public transport.”
This latest phase of the UK’s only zero emission autonomous bus trials builds on the service operated by an all-electric Mellor Orion E minibus which began in June and ran for seven weeks, clocking up more than 3,000 miles. This followed a pilot with the smaller bus in March using a circular route within Milton Park, which is situated between Didcot and Abingdon.
Carbon emissions reduction from the pioneering use of all-electric buses in autonomous mode is one of the aims of the consortium behind this revolutionary transport programme.
John Birtwistle added: “The next phase in this ground-breaking bus service gives us the opportunity to show more customers the exciting possibilities afforded by combining zero-emission and digital autonomous technology to provide a smarter, cleaner and quieter way to travel.”
“And now as we witness the dawn of autonomous transportation in the real world, we are excited to begin trials of our new autonomous buses in partnership with First Bus” – Mahesh Babu, Chief Executive Officer of Switch Mobility
Mahesh Babu, Chief Executive Officer of Switch Mobility, said: “Switch Mobility has long been a pioneer of zero-emission urban mobility. And now as we witness the dawn of autonomous transportation in the real world, we are excited to begin trials of our new autonomous buses in partnership with First Bus.
“This collaboration will demonstrate the financial and environmental advantages deep-rooted in Switch Mobility’s innovative products. Looking ahead, we are committed to shaping the future of mobility, where autonomous electric transportation becomes the norm, setting new standards and inspiring progress in the industry.”
Jim Hutchinson, CEO Fusion Processing, said: “This latest phase of the trial is another great milestone for us on the path towards provision of our automated systems more widely, enabling the move towards cleaner, greener and more efficient transportation.”