The UK’s first self-driving bus began road testing in Scotland with hopes to transport passengers in months. The buses are equipped with sensors that allow them to go on pre-determined routes without the need for the safety driver to intervene or take control. When fully operational, the buses will be capable of transporting 10,000 passengers weekly, with up to 36 passengers 14 miles (22 kilometres) across the bridge.

The autonomous bus service under Project CAVForth, backed by the Scottish government, will operate on the road network from the Ferrytoll Park and Ride facility in Fife, across the Forth Road Bridge Public Transport Corridor, to Edinburgh Park.

Travelling mostly on motorways controlled by Transport Scotland, the single deck autonomous buses, as part of the pilot project, will be required to interact with other traffic in a live road environment safely, negotiating junctions and bus stops.

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“This is a major step forward in our journey to fully launch the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus service and will provide easy access to a brand-new bus route in the heart of Scotland,” said Sam Greet, regional director of Stagecoach.

The CAVForth project was initially scheduled to begin in 2019 but was delayed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on supply chains.

Stagecoach is partnering with Fusion Processing, manufacturer Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland for the project, and the scheme has won the financial support of the UK government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

Jim Hutchinson, chief executive of Fusion Processing, said he was “delighted to be leading the world’s most complex and ambitious autonomous vehicle programme”.

“CAVForth will provide a useful service to local people as well as being a great demonstration of Fusion’s automated vehicle technology,” he said.

The buses have six levels of driving automation, with zero to two meaning a driver must constantly supervise and is always driving, while levels three to five allow the vehicle to drive itself.

With inputs from PTI

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