First driverless bus goes Forth! Self-driving vehicle will take to the roads for trial on famous bridge
- Stagecoach is starting on-road trials of autonomous buses from this summer
- The five single-decker buses will operate over the Forth Bridge in Scotland
- The vehicles can carry 36 passengers for the 14-mile route between Fife and Edinburgh
Britain’s first full-size self-driving bus takes to the roads today.
Stagecoach is carrying out on-road testing of the sensor-operated bus, with passengers due to board this summer.
In the pilot, five single-decker autonomous buses will operate over the Forth Bridge between Fife and Edinburgh.
The vehicles are capable of carrying 36 passengers the 14 miles of the route over the bridge.
Driverless buses are already being trialled across the world – including in Tokyo, Japan
When the service is fully operational, a driver will be on board each bus to monitor the driving system, along with a ‘bus captain’, who will talk to passengers.
On pre-selected roads, the buses are controlled by its sensors and do not need a driver. On other routes, a driver must take the controls.
Sam Greet, Stagecoach’s regional director in Scotland, hailed it as a ‘hugely exciting project’.
He added: ‘This is a major step forward in our journey to fully launch the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus service.’
The on-road testing in Scotland follows successful depot-based trials, track testing and virtual simulation which Stagecoach said put the autonomous buses through their paces to fine tune the drive systems.
When fully operational in the summer each bus will have a experienced driver monitoring the system alongside a bus captain who will move around the vehicle and talk to customers about the service.
Stagecoach said this would demonstrate what a future service might feel like when the staff member is able to leave the cab while the computer does the driving.
There are six levels of driving automation, with zero to two meaning a driver must constantly supervise and is always driving, while three to five allows the vehicle to drive itself.
Able to operate at level four, it means no driver attention is required for safety but self-driving is only supported in limited areas or circumstances.
Outside these the driver must intervene.