The U.K.’s first full-sized autonomous bus will take to the roads of Scotland for the first time, as live testing begins for project CAVForth, announced in a statement. Stagecoach, in partnership with Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis, and Transport Scotland, will be carrying out on-road testing of the autonomous bus in preparation for the launch of the CAVForth pilot service in late summer.
The Project CAVForth pilot, which is jointly funded by the U.K. Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) will see five single-deck autonomous buses operating at SAE Level 4 over the Forth Road Bridge between Ferrytoll Park and Ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park Train and Tram interchange. The buses are fitted with Fusion Processing’s sensor and control technology, CAVstar, that enables them to run on pre-selected roads without the safety driver having to intervene or take control. The buses will provide a service capable of carrying up to 36 passengers over the 14 miles across the bridge, with capacity for over 10,000 passengers a week.
The on-road testing in Scotland follows successful depot-based trials, track testing, and virtual simulation where the buses have been put through their paces to fine tune the autonomous drive systems.
“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," said Sam Greer, regional director for Stagecoach in Scotland, in the statement. “This is a hugely exciting project for Scotland and we are pleased to be starting live testing on roads today. This is a major step forward in our journey to fully launch the U.K.’s first full-sized autonomous bus service and will provide easy access to a brand-new bus route in the heart of East Scotland.”
“The start of on-route testing is a milestone for our autonomous bus project," added Chris Gall, ADL Group engineering director. "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.”
“We are delighted to be leading the world’s most complex and ambitious autonomous vehicle programme," said Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing Ltd CEO. "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.”