The CAVForth autonomous bus project has been shown off to the media in Edinburgh, with a driverless ride across the Forth Road Bridge.
The service, which launches to the public on Monday, involves driverless journeys on a 14 mile route spanning the Firth of Forth to the outskirts of Edinburgh. During the trial there will be two “Captains” on board, one acting as safety driver ready to take over control if necessary and the other to interact with passengers.
This is the first full-sized autonomous bus trial in the world.
One of those who has developed the service, Jamie Wilson, who is head of concepts at bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis told Highways News the opportunities are huge. “The UK bus industry has always been very innovative in terms of pushing ahead with decarbonisation technologies, emissions technologies, and actual type of vehicles that run on the network,” he said. “[The] Double-deck product – that iconic, innovative product that’s been exported all around the world from the UK plus industry – this is yet another technology development that we are pioneering here, we’ve got to a very developed state, and of course, there is absolute value for maximum safety, performance and efficiency of vehicles up and down this country, but also globally in other areas as well.”
Mr Wilson says the trial is vital in development of technology to work with real passengers who are expecting a normal bus experience to get them from A to B. “We view it as that the only way to gather proper learning and data is to actually do it in real time on a proper service through a dedicated service route,” he explained. “Unlike small autonomous pods that are going straight to driverless, the way that we are able to get the vehicle to learn and understand. The passengers on board are really important as part of that journey because ultimately, that’s the bus users. We take on board their views, and their understanding of this technology is going to affect and impact their journey.”
The AB1 service is believed to be the first timetabled, registered public service completely open for anyone to use.
Operator Stagecoach says it will “provide a novel experience for some and a new reliable transport link for others”.
You can listen to the full interview with Jamie Wilson here:
(Picture – Highways News)