UK’s first self-driving bus service launches in Scotland
A self-driving bus service has departed for its first public passenger outing in Scotland in a major milestone for autonomous driving in the UK.
This week five autonomous buses from the CAVForth project have begun rotating a 14-mile bus route at up to 50mph from Ferrytoll Park & Ride in Fife to Edinburgh Park interchange every 30 minutes.
Those involved in the project include tech company Fusion Processing, Stagecoach transport company, manufacturer Alexander Dennis, Transport Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University and Bristol Robotics Lab, which is part funded by the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.
According to Alexander Dennis, the five Enviro200AV autonomous buses have been modified from the manufacturer’s standard Enviro200 single decker, more than 8,000 of which are in operation across the UK.
The buses use Fusion Processing’s autonomous drive system, CAVStar, which takes data from a range of sensors including cameras, LiDAR and radar together with artificial intelligence processing to deliver efficiency throughout the journey in all traffic conditions, the company claimed.
Receiving information directly from traffic light systems enables the bus to plan its speed from one green light to the next. Fusion Procession added that this autonomous driving reduces unnecessary braking and accelerating, contributing to less wear on brakes and tyres, and reductions in carbon emissions.
The service will operate a regular timetable with the capacity for around 10,000 passenger journeys per week and will have two members of staff on board: a safety driver in the driver’s seat to monitor the technology, and a ‘captain’ in the saloon to take tickets and answer customers questions.
“Our trunk road network can provide a wide range of environments as a diverse testing ground, and the ground-breaking and globally significant Project CAVForth will really help Scotland establish its credentials on the world stage,” said Scottish Minister for Transport Kevin Stewart.
Jamie Wilson, head of concepts and advanced engineering for Alexander Dennis added that marks a “thrilling milestone for this ambitious project which we are delighted to be delivering with our partners”.
In April the UK also became the first country in Europe to approve semi-autonomous cruising as a driver assist function on Ford’s Mustang Mach-E by the Department of Transport.
Earlier this year the UK Law Commission called for both a short-term and longer-term overhaul of regulations around remote driving vehicles amidst concerns over road safety.
Subscribe to our Editor's weekly newsletter