New route

Driverless bus trial extended ahead of live launch

Driverless buses will launch in the spring

Driverless buses will mix with busy city centre traffic in the next phase of a trial in the east of Scotland.

Bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis has announced that the current 14-mile trial route from Edinburgh Park station across the Forth Road Bridge, operated by Stagecoach, will be extended to Dunfermline city centre.

The additional five-mile section will take in more complex autonomous driving scenarios on busy category A and B roads, including city centre traffic.

Following extensive testing the first phase is poised to launch to the public this spring.

The £10.4m CAVForth2 project, led by Fusion Processing and supported by the UK Government, also involves Edinburgh Napier University and the University of West of England.

The trial will use an upgraded version of the CAVStar ADS (Automated Drive System) that will be developed and supplied by Fusion Processing during the project.

CAVForth2 will use an autonomous version of the next-generation Enviro100EV electric bus from Alexander Dennis, also fitted with Fusion’s CAVStar ADS. This Enviro100AEV will operate alongside five existing Enviro200AV buses.

Alexander Dennis’s head of concepts and advanced engineering, Jamie Wilson, welcomed the confirmation of UK Government funding.

He said: “This renewed support from the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles builds on our achievements in the CAVForth project and will allow us to further develop autonomous bus technology here in the UK.

“This ensures the British bus industry remains at the forefront of global trends and helps secure jobs in the automotive industry. Our new Enviro100AEV will demonstrate another use case for our extremely versatile next-generation electric bus as Alexander Dennis continues to lead the transition to zero-emission mobility.”

Supporters of automated driving say it offers potential advantages over manually driven buses in fuel savings and reduced brake and tyre wear. There can be a 20% variance in fuel consumption across different bus drivers in a fleet.

Fusion Processing will map the automated drive system to accurately match the best driver, optimising acceleration so it is smooth and efficient. The Fusion system also interrogates the traffic lights and adjusts the vehicle’s speed to ensure they arrive on green, further reducing tyre and brake wear.

The buses will continue to be staffed by specially-trained ‘Autonomous Bus Professionals’ recruited by Stagecoach from across its East Scotland business.

These experienced bus drivers will act as safety drivers and monitor the autonomous system alongside a bus ‘captain’ who will move around the vehicle, talking to passengers about the service and answering any questions they may have.

Jim Hutchinson, CEO at Fusion Processing, said: “CAVForth2 builds on our extensive experience in developing a fleet of five full size SAE Level 4 autonomous buses, engineered to operate safely on public roads and extends the route by a further five miles into a more complex urban environment.


“We have every confidence that the next generation of our CAVstar® Automated Drive System, which combines a range of Radar, LiDAR and optical sensors with state-of-the-art artificial intelligence processing units, will be up to the task.”

Carla Stockton-Jones, UK managing director of Stagecoach, said: “We’re very proud to be pioneers of this technology with our plans to roll out the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus service in Scotland in the spring.

“The government funding announced today means that we can build further on this achievement by advancing the technology as we extend our Scottish bus trial to cover a longer route.

“We look forward to working with our partners across the country to roll out CAVForth2 and the other autonomous projects awarded funding today, which will all help to ensure that the UK remains firmly on the map for its advancements in autonomous technology.”

Hydrogen grant

Hydrogen Vehicle Systems (HVS), the Glasgow-based hydrogen-powered commercial vehicle innovator, has revealed that the consortium it leads, Hub2Hub, has been awarded £6.6 million to develop and deliver a revolutionary, world-first, autonomous zero-emission HGV for the UK market. 

The consortium will create a self-driving heavy goods tractor unit, which will begin vehicles trials in 2024, with supermarket group Asda, supporting on end user needs as strategic partners.

It is hoped that the cost savings an autonomous lorry could provide will speed up the adoption of zero-emissions vehicles by the freight sector, reducing the industry’s contribution to climate change. 

The £12 million venture has been selected by the Centre for Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) as a recipient for its joint industry and government-funded project.

It aim to showcase the potential of autonomy in the transportation sector with unprecedented levels of efficiency, safety and operational cost savings for logistics operators, as well as providing new employment opportunities.

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