Stagecoach has revealed a first glimpse of the UK’s first full-sized autonomous buses which will likely start operating in Scotland in early summer 2022.
Four single-decker buses will run a 14-mile route from Fife’s Ferrytoll Park & Ride to Edinburgh Park’s transport hub, crossing the Forth Road Bridge on their journey.
The autonomous Stagecoach buses, which will still have drivers on board, are due to operate via the M90, M9 and M8. They will navigate motorways, bus lanes and junctions – with and without traffic lights – as well as roundabouts and minor roads too.
They are part of the CAVForth project, and are currently being fitted with the ground-breaking sensor and control technology, allowing them to become driver-less and computer-driven, reports the Scotsman. As part of the trial of the buses, a new service with the aim of encouraging people to switch to public transport will be launched next year.
Stagecoach said it will potentially have the capacity for up to 10,000 passengers a week.
Sam Greer, Regional Director for Stagecoach in Scotland, said: “We are all very excited to be marking the next major milestone in our autonomous bus project, with buses planned to be on the road in early summer next year.
“The new service will provide a bus link between Fife and Edinburgh Park which currently does not exist and we hope will encourage more people to ditch the car, skip traffic jams and enjoy a relaxed journey in a dedicated bus lane and with new innovative state of the art technology.”
Local communities were consulted on the design and colour of the new buses.
The buses are currently going through an array of virtual and track testing to make sure all systems are functioning as expected before on-road testing begins later this year.
Minister for Transport Graeme Dey said: “This is another welcome step forward for the incredibly exciting Project CAVForth, as we move closer to seeing it go live next year.
“This type of innovation shows Scotland is very much open for business when it comes to trialling this technology.
“This ground-breaking and globally significant project will really help the country establish its credentials on the world stage.”
One of the four full sized autonomous buses that will run on Scottish roads for the first time next year.
The colour and design of the buses were chosen after a consultation with local communities. The conclusion showed that residents were keen for the buses to stand out from others on the road.
Each of the four vehicles has been marked with ‘AB’ (autonomous bus) logo, which Stagecoach hopes will become a signature identifier in the area.
Jim Hutchinson, CEO of Fusion Processing Ltd, said: “CAVForth is an exciting pilot service and a great demonstration of our automated vehicle technology.
“The vehicles are fitted with CAVstar, our automated driving system which combines our own hardware and software to create, safe, AV Level 4 full sized buses.
“The buses will be operating on a 28-mile round trip route that includes motorways, single carriageway A-roads, minor roads, bus lanes, roundabouts and junctions with and without traffic lights.”
He added that they believe it will be the most comprehensive autonomous bus demonstration to date.
Paul Davies, ADL President and Managing Director, said the trial of the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus service gives them an “outstanding opportunity to gain real-world experience”.
He added that as the UK bus industry’s “innovation leader”, they are constantly exploring new ways to further increase efficiency and safety.