The UK’s first driverless bus is a success!

23rd January 2023
Harry Fowle

A group of 22 volunteers became the first passengers to take a trip on a full-size, driverless bus on public roads.

Stagecoach has recently completed a successful test of its self-driving bus project becoming the first in the UK to do so. The group of 22 local bus-fairing volunteers were taken on an autonomous single-decker bus across the Forth Road Bridge, near Edinburgh, Scotland.

Following the success of the trial, Lead Project Manager and Operations Director, Louise Simpson hopes that Stagecoach will be able to launch the full service come springtime which will see five self-driving single-decker buses run a route between the Scottish capital and Fife.

One of the passengers, Fleur Dijkman, commented: “I wasn’t worried at all about it. You wouldn’t know the difference between this and a normal bus from the driving.” Shining a positive light on the project.

The public road tests come at the end of the testing phases which have previously seen depot, virtual simulation, and track testing. Despite seeing some hiccups amidst these previous tests, such as software glitches, the most recent tests are a positive sign of what’s to come.

This pilot test on open roads is a part of the CAVForth project which aims to have five of the self-driving busses running services between Ferrytoll park-and-ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park train and tram interchange. The buses have sensors on them which enable them to cover the 14-mile route at speeds of up to 50mph at an expected rate of 10,000 journeys per week.

Once put into operation, each bus will still have a driver to oversee the system along with a bus captain who will assist passengers with tickets and boarding.

The Stagecoach-led project is in partnership with Transport Scotland, Fusion Processing, and Alexander Dennis whilst also seeing financial support from the UK government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

“This is another hugely significant step forward for the CAVForth project that brings us closer to these autonomous vehicles entering service,” says Ivan McKee, Business Minister to the Scottish government.

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