Stagecoach reaches next key milestone in autonomous bus project
The CAVForth project will see Stagecoach operate four full-sized autonomous single-decker buses between Fife and Edinburgh in 2022.
Stagecoach – in partnership with Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland – has revealed the first glimpse of the new special livery for the autonomous bus project, CAVForth, that will be launching in Scotland in 2022.
It is the next key milestone in the exciting trial, which will see the first full-sized autonomous buses running on UK roads for the first time in 2022. The new service will be made up of four single-decker buses running a 14-mile route, including crossing the iconic Forth Road Bridge. It will provide capacity for up to 10,000 passengers a week, connecting Fife’s Ferrytoll Park & Ride with Edinburgh Park’s transport hub, and is expected to be popular with commuters, students, day-tripper, tourists and novelty riders, who are keen to be the first to say that they have been driven by a computer.
The new service will make it easy for people to switch to public transport by providing a brand new bus route in the heart of East Scotland. It comes on the back of the COP26 climate change summit, where Stagecoach said that the fastest way to make progress towards the UK’s net zero ambitions is by people switching from making car journeys and instead travelling by public transport, cycling or walking.
The four buses, which will feature the special new livery, are currently being fitted out with the ground-breaking sensor and control technology that allows them to become computer-driven. The vehicles are also being put through their paces with an array of virtual and track testing to ensure that all systems are functioning as expected before on-road testing begins later in 2021.
The colours and design were chosen through consultation with local communities, and a decision was made to ensure that the vehicles stand out on the road. The ‘AB’ logo stands for autonomous bus and is an icon that Stagecoach hopes to see become a standard identifier of autonomous vehicles in the future.
The design of the livery is intended to ensure that it still feels like a regular bus, and is easily identifiable with the well-known Stagecoach brand, whilst also acknowledging the array of project partners who are making this world-leading pilot service a reality: Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis Limited, Transport Scotland, Napier University, Bristol Robotics Lab, the University of the West of England, as well the funding partner, the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.
The Scottish Minister for Transport, Graeme Dey, said: “This is another welcome step forward for the incredibly exciting Project CAVForth, as we move closer to seeing it go live [in 2022]. This type of innovation shows that Scotland is very much open for business when it comes to trialling this technology. This ground-breaking and globally significant project will really help the country to establish its credentials on the world stage.”
Sam Greer, Regional Director for Stagecoach in Scotland, said: “We are all very excited to be marking the next major milestone in our autonomous bus project, with buses planned to be on the road in early summer . The new service will provide a bus link between Fife and Edinburgh Park, which currently does not exist, and we hope will encourage more people to ditch the car, skip traffic jams and enjoy a relaxed journey in a dedicated bus lane and with new innovative state-of-the-art technology.”