The UK’s first ever full-sized driverless buses have commenced their passenger service in Edinburgh. Stagecoach, the operator of the autonomous vehicles, has deployed them across the Forth Road Bridge, traveling from Ferrytoll park-and-ride in Fife to Edinburgh Park station. Although the buses are called “driverless,” they still have two personnel on board. One of them will be seated in the driver’s position to oversee the technology, while the other, called the “bus captain,” will assist passengers in boarding and purchasing tickets.
According to Stagecoach, the fleet of five single-decker buses can transport approximately 10,000 passengers per week. The vehicles are equipped with sensors that allow them to travel on predetermined roads on the 14-mile route at a maximum speed of 50mph.
The AB1 service is the first autonomous bus route registered in the UK and is part of Project CAVForth, which is funded by the UK government and operated by Stagecoach. The company collaborated with Fusion Processing Ltd, Transport Scotland, Alexander Dennis, Edinburgh Napier University, and Bristol Robotics Laboratory to make this initiative a reality.
The Alexander Dennis Enviro200AV buses are capable of handling complex traffic maneuvers such as roundabouts, traffic lights, and weaving between motorway lanes. The project has employed 20 drivers from Stagecoach East Scotland’s current driving team.
Carla Stockton-Jones, Managing Director of Stagecoach UK, expressed her enthusiasm by stating, “We are thrilled to introduce the UK’s first autonomous bus fleet in east Scotland. We are delighted to be leading the way in transportation innovation with this project, which marks a significant milestone for public transport.”