UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus poised to go into public service

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Stagecoach, in partnership with Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland, has today, 19 November, revealed the first glimpse of the new autonomous bus project, CAVForth, launching in Scotland in 2022.

Key points:

  • New autonomous bus service trial due to go live in Scotland in early summer 2022
  • Service will use the dedicated transport corridor across the Forth Road Bridge
  • New route will make it attractive for people to make the switch from car to bus
  • Partnership between Fusion Processing, Stagecoach, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland

It is the next key milestone in the trial which will see the first-full sized autonomous buses running on UK roads for the first time next year. Its launch, originally planned for 2020, has been heavily delayed due to Covid restrictions.

Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing Ltd CEO, says: “We believe it will be the most comprehensive Autonomous bus demonstration to date.

“The vehicles are fitted with CAVstar, our automated driving system which combines our own hardware and software to create, safe, AV Level 4 full sized buses.”

Details of autonomous vehicle levels are at our Jargon Buster

They will be operating on a 28 mile round trip route that includes motorways, single carriageway A-roads, minor roads, bus lanes, roundabouts and junctions with and without traffic lights.

The new service will be made up of four single-decker buses running the 14-mile route, including crossing the iconic Forth Road Bridge. This has been scaled back from the original plan announced in 2019, when six buses were announced, to enter service in early 2020.

It will provide capacity for up to 10,000 passengers a week, connecting Fife’s Ferrytoll Park & Ride with Edinburgh Park’s transport hub and is expected to be popular with commuters, students, day-tripper, tourists and novelty riders; keen to be first to say they have been driven by a computer.

The new service will make it easy for people to switch to public transport by providing a brand new bus route in the heart of East Scotland. It comes on the back of the COP26 climate change summit where Stagecoach said that the fastest way to make progress towards the UK’s net zero ambitions is by people switching from making car journeys and instead travelling by public transport, cycling or walking.

The four buses, which will feature the special new livery, are currently being fitted out with the ground-breaking sensor and control technology, developed and supplied by project lead, Fusion Processing Ltd,  that allows them to become computer-driven.

The vehicles are also being put through their paces with an array of virtual and track testing to ensure all systems are functioning as expected before on-road testing begins later this year.

The colours and design were chosen through consultation with local communities and a decision made to ensure the vehicles stand out on the road. The ‘AB’ logo, stands for autonomous bus and is an icon that Stagecoach hopes to see become a standard identifier of autonomous vehicles in the future.

The design of the livery is intended to ensure that it still feels like a regular bus, and is easily identifiable with the well-known Stagecoach brand, whilst also acknowledging the array of project partners who are making this world-leading pilot service a reality: Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis Limited, Transport Scotland, Napier University, Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England, as well the funding partner; the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

Minister for Transport Graeme Dey said: “This is another welcome step forward for the incredibly exciting Project CAVForth, as we move closer to seeing it go live next year. This type of innovation shows Scotland is very much open for business when it comes to trialling this technology. This ground-breaking and globally significant project will really help the country establish its credentials on the world stage.”

Sam Greer, Regional Director for Stagecoach in Scotland said: “We are all very excited to be marking the next major milestone in our autonomous bus project, with buses planned to be on the road in early summer next year.

“The new service will provide a bus link between Fife and Edinburgh Park which currently does not exist and we hope will encourage more people to ditch the car, skip traffic jams and enjoy a relaxed journey in a dedicated bus lane and with new innovative state of the art technology.”

Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing Ltd CEO, said: “We are delighted to be leading on the world’s most complex and ambitious autonomous vehicle programme. CAVForth is an exciting pilot service and a great demonstration of our automated vehicle technology.

Paul Davies, ADL President & Managing Director, said: “As the UK bus industry’s innovation leader, we are constantly exploring new ways to further increase efficiency and safety. The trial of the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus service gives us an outstanding opportunity to gain real-world experience. We are also working closely with our colleagues across NFI Group who are developing similar, promising projects.”

You will receive our regular news digest – typically weekly. We are serious about GDPR and we promise to take care of your data and will never sell it or pass it on.

Your Privacy

We and our partners use technologies, such as cookies, and process personal data, such as IP addresses and cookie identifiers, to personalise ads and content based on your interests, measure the performance of ads and content, and derive insights about the audiences who saw ads and content. Click below to consent to the use of this technology and the processing of your personal data for these purposes. View our privacy policy.