In Scotland, the first self-driving bus service in the UK has begun transporting people over the renowned bridge over the Firth of Forth.
Five full-size Alexander Dennis Enviro200AV buses will cross the bridge using autonomous driving technology as they transport up to 10,000 passengers per week between the Ferrytoll Park & Ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park Transports interchange.
The passengers are not fully in the hands of technology during the 14-mile trip in mixed traffic at top speeds of 50 mph.
A human driver will sit behind the wheel as usual, ready to take control if required. There will also be a second crew ‘captain’ in the passenger area to check tickets and deal with customers. The second crew member is there to demonstrate what bus travel may be like in 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.”
Known as CAVForth, the project has been funded until 2025, and next year it is expected the self-driving bus route will be extended further north to the Dunfermline City bus station.
This is the first full-size autonomous registered bus service anywhere in the world, according to CAVForth members, which, as well as bus operator Stagecoach and Alexander Dennis, includes Fusion Processing, Transport Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, Bristol Robotics Lab, and the University of the West of England.
It is the end product of a ten-year development effort by Fusion Processing that has logged 1.8 million test miles.
Part of the funding for the project comes from the UK government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV).