The U.K.’s first full-sized autonomous bus is now being tested in a Manchester bus depot. The 38-foot Alexander Dennis Ltd. Enviro200 bus has been fitted with the CAVstar system provided by Fusion Processing Ltd, and is being piloted by Stagecoach.
The trial includes the bus being used in autonomous mode within the depot environment, to carry out movements such as parking and moving into the bus wash.
The CAVstar system uses multiple sensor types including radar, LIDAR, optical cameras, and ultrasound, along with satellite navigation to detect and avoid objects, in all weathers, day and night, and plan an optimum path for the vehicle.
The software being used in the pilot vehicle also forms the basis for a significant autonomous vehicle trial due to get underway in 2020 when a fleet of five autonomous buses similar to this one will operate — carrying passengers — between Fife and Edinburgh, across the Forth Road Bridge Corridor.
The vehicles in both trials will be used autonomously to Level 4 standard, which means that a safety driver must remain on board in line with U.K. regulations.The technology can also be used to help improve the safety of road users in manually driven vehicles. For example, the sensor system on the vehicle can be used to provide assistance to the driver by warning of cyclists or pedestrians that may be in the blind spot or arrive unexpectedly close to the vehicle.