Self-driving technology is becoming more prevalent in various parts of the world, and the UK is not left behind. Stagecoach, the largest bus and coach operator in the UK, has announced that it will introduce five fully autonomous buses on the streets near Edinburgh next month.
The project, named CAVForth, is set to become the world’s first full-size, self-driving public bus service. The buses will operate at AV Level 4, with a trained safety driver onboard.
The CAVForth project is estimated to cost around £6.1m and is part-funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV). The project aims to transport 10,000 passengers weekly and will initially run a 22.5km circuit route, including a stretch across the iconic Forth Road Bridge.
The vehicles are equipped with sensors that enable them to travel on pre-selected roads at up to 80 kph. In addition, the buses will operate at AV Level 4, meaning the driver will not be expected to touch the controls while the vehicle is in autonomous mode.
Fully driverless cars are not yet legally permitted in the UK; a safety driver is always required in all autonomous vehicles. However, the government is working on an updated legal and assurance framework.
Scottish Minister for Transport, Kevin Stewart, said the CAVForth project was an “exciting milestone” that would help Scotland “establish its credentials on the world stage.”
The CAVForth project is part of the UK government’s £100 million Intelligent Mobility Fund, which aims to speed up the commercialization of self-driving transport technology. This project’s success will be a culmination of over four years of research, planning, and development. Similar CAV projects are planned in Sunderland and Belfast.
The CAVForth project is set to become the world’s first full-size, self-driving public bus service, and it is estimated to transport 10,000 passengers weekly. The success of this project will help establish the UK’s credentials on the world stage and accelerate the commercialization of self-driving technology.
The UK government’s £100 million Intelligent Mobility Fund aims to support similar projects in different parts of the country.
With other projects already being launched in other parts of Europe, self-driving technology is expected to become more prevalent in the coming years.