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UK's First Self-Driving Bus Launches

UK's First Self-Driving Bus Launches
03 May 2022 | Updated 04 May 2022

The UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus will take to the roads of Scotland for the first time.

Stagecoach, in partnership with Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland, has been carrying out on-road testing of the autonomous bus, in preparation for the launch of the CAVForth pilot service in late summer.

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


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The self-driving bus pilot, which is jointly funded by the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) will see five single-deck autonomous buses operating at SAE Level 4 in Scotland.

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 vehicles 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.


What is the Difference Between Level 4 and Level 5 Driving Automation?


Stagecoach’s automated buses operate at Level 4 of Driving Automation. This means that no human interaction is involved, as the bus is programmed to stop in the event of a system failure. Such vehicles may not have steering wheels or pedals.

This type of automation technology is commonly used for driverless public transport, as vehicles are programmed to travel within specific geographic boundaries.

Level 5 automation, however, is the highest class of driving automation. A Level 5 vehicle is not constrained by pre-set boundaries and can drive in all conditions without human input, although a human will still be required to programme a destination for the vehicle.


Passengers Still Want Staff on Autonomous Buses


As part of project CAVForth, around 500 members of the public have helped with the implementation of the new autonomous bus service, providing feedback on what would make them feel comfortable and confident in travelling.

Built on the feedback received, future autonomous bus services will still have a member of staff on board.


Autonomous Bus Professionals and “Captains”


To support this, Oover 20 specially trained “Autonomous Bus Professionals” are soon to be recruited by Stagecoach from across its East Scotland business.

When the service goes live, the “Autonomous Bus Professionals” will monitor the autonomous system alongside a bus “Captain” who will move around the saloon, talking to passengers about the service and answering questions.

This experience demonstrates what a future service might feel like on a Level 5 vehicle when the staff member is able to leave the cab while the computer does the driving.

Picture: a photograph of one of Stage Coach’s autonomous buses. Image Credit: Fusion Processing

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 03 May 2022


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