UK’s First Autonomous Full Scale Bus to Operate in Scotland

The first commercial autonomous featured full-scale passenger bus fleet will enter trials operating along the Forth Road Bridge in Scotland.

Government aided Innovate UK announced funding to support a successful bid from bus operator Stagecoach along with partners Transport Scotland, Alexander Dennis Ltd (ADL), Fusion Processing, ESP Group, Edinburgh Napier University and University of West of England.

The trial, due to begin next year, will feature five autonomous single deck vehicles running between Fife and Edinburgh. Vehicles operated by Stagecoach East Scotland will be operated at Level 4 autonomous capability requiring a driver must remain on board during any journey in line with UK regulations. Funding of £4.35M ($5.6M) has been awarded to the project with additional investment from the partner companies involved.

Once complete, the 11.8-meter ADL Enviro200 vehicles will operate between Ferrytoll Park & Ride facility in Fife and the Edinburgh Park Train and Tram interchange. The buses will use both on-road and hard shoulder running and will use the dedicated public transport corridor across the Forth Road Bridge that allows buses and taxis to use dedicated lanes between the M9 near Newbridge and Halbeath in Fife.

The autonomous buses are hoped to provide a service capable of carrying up to 42 passengers 14 miles across the Forth Bridge to Edinburgh Park Train and Tram interchange. With buses every 20 minutes this could provide an estimated 10,000 weekly journeys

Work on the project is expected to get underway during the second quarter of next year at ADL’s manufacturing depot in Guildford with the first vehicles expected to go into service during 2020.

The project partners said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded this funding and we are excited to further test the potential for autonomous technology in the future within public transport using full size single deck buses, which so far has not been achieved anywhere else in the world.  Drivers will still be required on all vehicles at all time while in service for passenger safety and to comply with UK legislation.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_



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