Full-Sized Autonomous Bus Begins Testing in Scotland

The UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus has commenced live testing in Scotland as part of Project CAVForth.

Project CAVForth aims to demonstrate the potential of an autonomous bus service along a 14-mile route between Fife and Edinburgh. Stagecoach has partnered with Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) and Transport Scotland to conduct on-road testing of the autonomous bus prior to the launch of a pilot service this summer.

Autonomous Bus Scotland
The autonomous buses can carry up to 36 passengers, providing a service for over 10,000 passengers a week
Sam Greer, Regional Director for Stagecoach in Scotland, said:

“Stagecoach is continuing to look for ways to improve the service it offers to customers, including through major investment in new technology, such as the CAVForth pilot. This is a hugely exciting project for Scotland and we are pleased to be starting live testing on roads this week. This is a major step forward in our journey to fully launch the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus service and will provide easy access to a brand-new bus route in the heart of East Scotland.”

Project CAVForth is funded by the UK government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and project partners Fusion, ADL, Stagecoach and Transport Scotland.

The pilot will operate five single-deck autonomous SAE Level 4 buses. The vehicles are fitted with Fusion Processing’s sensor and control technology, CAVstar, which means they can run on set roads without intervention from a safety driver.

The on-road testing follows successful depot trials, track testing and virtual simulation.

Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing Ltd CEO, said:

“We are delighted to be leading the world’s most complex and ambitious autonomous vehicle programme. CAVForth will provide a useful service to local people as well as being a great demonstration of Fusion’s automated vehicle technology. The buses are fitted with CAVstar, our automated driving system which combines our own hardware and software to create, safe, full-size buses, operating at SAE Level 4. On road testing is an exciting milestone in the development of autonomous commercial vehicles and we look forward to welcoming passengers onboard in a few months’ time.”

In preparation for the Project CAVForth pilot, Transport Scotland has opened a section of Actively Managed Hard Shoulder for all buses on the M8 eastbound. This will help reduce journey times and improve reliability for buses approaching Edinburgh.

Chris Gall, ADL Group Engineering Director, said:

“The start of on-route testing is a milestone for our autonomous bus project. In partnership with Stagecoach, Fusion Processing and Transport Scotland, Project CAVForth helps us to explore new technologies that will make buses even safer and even more efficient. As we move towards passenger services later in the year, the project will be a landmark demonstration of future technologies in transport.”

Before the passenger service goes live, Stagecoach will recruit over 20 specially trained ‘autonomous bus professionals’ to monitor the autonomous system. A bus ‘captain’ will also be available on board to talk to passengers and answer any questions, demonstrating the potential of a future service where the staff member is able to leave the cab while the computer drives.

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