The partners involved in Project CAVForth have demonstrated Europe’s first full-sized autonomous bus at an event in Glasgow as part of Scotland’s Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Summit (CAV Scotland).
The demonstration enabled attendees to get a first-hand view of some of the autonomous technology that will be used as part of the self-driving transit trials that will be taking place across the Forth Road Bridge next year. The Alexander Dennis Enviro200 bus being demonstrated at CAV Scotland has already carried out extensive trials at bus operator Stagecoach’s depot in Manchester in the first part of the autonomous bus project. Following this success, Stagecoach, Alexander Dennis and Fusion Processing Ltd are now working with Transport Scotland, Bristol Robotics Laboratory and Napier University on Project CAVForth, which will see five autonomous buses operating between the Ferrytoll Park-and-Ride facility in Fife and the Edinburgh Park Train and Tram interchange in 2020.
These buses, which are currently in development, will see additional autonomous technology installed that enables them to run on selected public roads. The autonomous buses, which will be operated by Stagecoach East Scotland, will provide a service capable of carrying up to 42 passengers on the 14 miles (22.5km) long journey across the bridge, with capacity for up to 10,000 passengers a week. The buses will operate to SAE Level 4 standard, which means that a driver will remain on board during any journey in line with current UK regulations.
“CAVForth builds on the existing relationship that Fusion has with the UK’s leading bus operator and bus manufacturer and adds the expertise of Transport Scotland, Bristol Robotics Lab and Napier University,” noted Jim Hutchinson, CEO of Fusion Processing, which is leading the project. “Looking across the industry, CAVForth is the most advanced autonomous bus project we see anywhere to day. As well as providing autonomous systems, we will provide spin off projects from the technology that can help today’s manual driven buses, such as tech that can recognise pedestrians and cyclists and warn the driver, automated emergency braking and replacement of external mirrors with advanced vision systems.”
Martin Griffiths, chief executive of Stagecoach Group, added, “We have always been at the forefront of innovation and we have a strong and successful track record in harnessing new technology to launch new products and break new ground. We’re therefore very pleased to be leading the way in Scotland’s first autonomous bus trial. Our industry, customers and employees can benefit hugely from autonomous technology as it can make services safer, more efficient and help to deliver better journeys.”
Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, commented, “I was pleased to experience the demo of the prototype automated bus system as it’s the type of innovation that shows Scotland is very much open for business when it comes to trialling these types of vehicles. Our trunk road network can provide a wide range of environments as a diverse testing ground, and the ground-breaking and globally significant Project CAVForth will really help Scotland establish its credentials on the world stage.”