Stagecoach’s fortnight of trials come ahead of a plan to carry the first passengers this summer.
The UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus took to the roads today (Monday), and the route for the five single-decker buses took them from Ferrytoll Park and Ride across the Forth Road Bridge to Edinburgh Park’s tram and train interchange.
The buses are fitted with Fusion Processing’s ground-breaking sensor and control technology, CAVstar, that enables them to run on pre-selected roads without the safety driver having to intervene or take control.
They will provide a service capable of carrying up to 36 passengers over the 14 miles across the bridge, with capacity for over 10,000 passengers a week.
But, during testing, no passengers will be allowed on the bus.
The service is billed by the company as “Europe’s most complex and ambitious public autonomous bus pilot.”
The trials form part of the Project CAVForth pilot, which is jointly funded by the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV).
They follow successful depot-based trials, track testing and virtual simulation where the buses have been put through their paces to fine tune the autonomous drive systems.
Around 500 members of the public have helped with the implementation of the new autonomous bus service, providing feedback on what would make them feel comfortable and confident in travelling.
More than 20 specially trained ‘Autonomous Bus Professionals’ are soon to be recruited by Stagecoach from across its East Scotland business.
When the service goes live, these experienced bus drivers will monitor the system alongside a bus ‘captain’ who will move around the saloon, talking to passengers about the service and answering any questions they may have.
Sam Greer, regional director for Stagecoach in Scotland, said: “This is a hugely exciting project for Scotland, and we are pleased to be starting live testing on roads this week.
“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 East Scotland.”