Autonomous buses get on the road in Scotland

9 May 2022

As live testing begins for project CAVForth, the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus has taken to the roads of Scotland with Stagecoach and its partners carrying out two weeks on-road testing.

The Project CAVForth pilot, which is jointly funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and the project partners, Fusion Processing, 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 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. They 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.

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 eastbound. This will, it said, help to reduce journey times and improve journey time reliability for all buses of 24 seats or more on the approach to Edinburgh.

Over 20 specially trained “Autonomous Bus Professionals” are soon to be recruited by Stagecoach from across its East Scotland business.

When the service goes live, these experienced bus drivers will monitor the autonomous system alongside a bus “Captain” who will move around the saloon, talking to passengers about the service and answering any questions they may have, demonstrating what a future service might feel like when the staff member is able to leave the cab while the computer does the driving.