Autonomous bus takes to UK roads for live tests

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The UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus has taken to the roads of Scotland for the first time as live testing begins for project CAVForth. Transport company Stagecoach, in partnership with Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis (ADL) and Transport Scotland, are set to carry out on-road testing of the autonomous bus over a two-week period in preparation for the launch of the CAVForth pilot service in late summer.

The Project CAVForth pilot, which is jointly funded by the UK government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and the project partners Fusion, ADL, Stagecoach and Transport Scotland, 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.

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.”

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. To help support the delivery of Project CAVForth, Transport Scotland recently opened a section of Actively Managed Hard Shoulder for all buses on the M8 motorway’s eastbound carriageway.

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.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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