- Published: 20 May 2023
Buses will travel up to 50mph on the 14-mile route that crosses the Forth Road Bridge and is made up of A-roads, motorways, bus lanes and private land.
The UK’s first autonomous bus service, AB1, is launching in Scotland and will carry its first passengers on 15 May by the CavForth partnership.
A fleet of five Alexander Dennis Enviro200AV vehicles will cover the new 14-mile route, in mixed traffic, at up to 50mph across the Forth Road Bridge from Ferrytoll Park & Ride in Fife to Edinburgh Park Transport Interchange.
CavForth is a collaborative project comprising of technology company Fusion Processing, bus operator Stagecoach, bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis, Transport Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, Bristol Robotics Lab, and the University of the West of England. It is part-funded by the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV).
AB1 is believed to be the first registered bus service in the world to use full-sized autonomous buses. The trial will run until 2025 and aims to demonstrate autonomous technology in a real-world environment, transporting up to 10,000 passengers per week. During this time, the partners will make improvements and monitor the benefits for passengers, operations, and society.
The milestone in autonomous technology is the result of almost 10 years of research and development from Fusion Processing, with its CavStar system having covered more than 1.8 million kilometres in tests.
“CavForth is an exciting showcase of how our CaVStar Automated Drive System can safely operate in a very complex driving environment," said Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing CEO. "This pilot is globally significant and marks a step change in the operation of autonomous commercial vehicles on public roads.”
The service will have two members of staff on board: a safety driver in the driver’s seat to monitor the technology, and a ‘captain’ in the saloon to take tickets and answer customers’ questions.
The captain is there to demonstrate what a full-size autonomous bus might feel like in the future, when one member of staff can leave the cab while the computer does the driving, and engage with passengers, much like a conductor would have done.
The recently announced CCAV funding for CavForth II sees the project extended to 2025, challenging the partners to extend the route north to Dunfermline City bus station in 2024.
Minister for Transport Kevin Stewart said: “It is really exciting to see the innovative and ambitious CavForth project take to the roads in earnest after all the hard work of the partner organisations involved in bringing this world first to Scotland. We want Scotland to continue to be at the forefront in the development of connected and autonomous vehicles and the start of this live trial will really help the country establish its credentials on the world stage.
“I am excited to see how this technology can help to support our vision for a sustainable, inclusive, safe and accessible transport system.”
Quelle/Source: Smart Cities World, 12.05.2023