UK government funding helps launch world’s first autonomous bus in Edinburgh

Posted: 1 February 2023 | | No comments yet

From spring 2023, the world’s first self-driving bus will help revolutionise public transport and passenger travel in Edinburgh by better connecting rural communities and reducing road collisions that are often caused by human error.

Stagecoach and partners begin testing UK’s first autonomous bus

Credit: Stagecoach

Passengers will be boarding the world’s first fully sized, self-driving bus service in Edinburgh from spring 2023, after it had been awarded a share of £81 million in joint UK government and industry support for autonomous transport technology.

The project is one of seven successful projects from around the UK. The grants, part of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Connected and Automated Mobility programme, will help British companies seize early opportunities to develop experimental projects into offerings ready for the market. In addition, a total of £42 million in government funding is also being matched by the industry.

Business Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “In just a few years’ time, the business of self-driving vehicles could add tens of billions to our economy and create tens of thousands of jobs across the UK. This is a massive opportunity to drive forward our priority to grow the economy, which we are determined to seize.”

UK’s first full-size autonomous bus carries passengers for the first time

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said: “Self-driving vehicles including buses will positively transform people’s everyday lives – making it easier to get around, access vital services and improve regional connectivity. We’re supporting and investing in the safe roll-out of this incredible technology to help maximise its full potential, while also creating skilled jobs and boosting growth in this important sector.”

Almost £600,000 is also being awarded for feasibility studies, looking into how self-driving technology could improve public transport in four parts of the UK. These projects will look into potential routes where automated vehicles could operate exclusively from other traffic, to relieve congestion on the A414 through Hertfordshire and Essex, parts of Eastern Cambridge, Birmingham and Solihull and Milton Keynes.

The UK government is also committed to introducing legislation that will enable the safe and timely roll-out of autonomous vehicles on UK roads. Under a proposed ‘safety ambition’ for self-driving vehicles to be equivalent in safety to a competent and careful human driver, vehicles will need to meet certain standards to be allowed to ‘self-drive’ on the roads throughout the lifetime of the vehicle. Organisations overseeing self-driving vehicles could face sanctions if standards are not maintained.