Stagecoach set to expand autonomous vehicle trials to Cambridge and Sunderland

Posted: 2 February 2023 | | No comments yet

The UK government’s new funding for autonomous projects will enable Stagecoach to build on the work that it has done to develop self-driving bus technology, by trialling new autonomous vehicles in Cambridge and Sunderland.

Stagecoach set to expand autonomous vehicle trials to Cambridge and Sunderland

Credit: Stagecoach

Stagecoach has announced that it will be expanding its development of autonomous bus technology even further with new trials taking place in Cambridge and Sunderland, and the extension of its Scottish cross Forth Road Bridge trial to cover a longer route.

This news follows the UK government’s announcement that grants have been given to seven successful autonomous projects across the country. A total of £81 million has been made available in combined government and industry funding for these projects.

The three autonomous projects that Stagecoach is involved in have been granted funding through the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) Connected and Automated Mobility Programme (CAM) and include:

CAVForth II – Led by Fusion Processing

This funding will allow the project to build further on what is believed to be the world’s most complex full-sized automated bus service, running along a 14 mile route, and building on a pilot project that is nearing completion, with a launch planned in spring 2023.

This project will test and refine the commercial service model, from the current ‘Captained’ service, with a staff member on-board, to future deployments. It will also allow the route over the Forth Bridge to be extended to Dunfermline city centre, a total distance of nearly 20 miles.

Furthermore, the additional section of the route will take in more complex autonomous driving scenarios on busy category A and B roads, mixing with city centre traffic, making it more comparable with express style bus routes.

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

Sunderland Advanced Mobility Shuttle – Led by City of Sunderland Council

This project will research, build, trial and evaluate the deployment of a highly automated, remotely supervised, zero-emission passenger mobility service in the City of Sunderland. This will increase connectivity between a key transport interchange (bus, rail and metro) and two high-volume destinations: the University of Sunderland City Campus and Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Project Cambridge Connector – Led by Greater Cambridge Partnership

The Cambridge project will pilot on-demand self-driving vehicles. Up to 13 electric vehicles will provide passenger services that integrate with existing transport services within Cambridge across two sites: Cambridge University’s West Cambridge Campus and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

The lead partner Greater Cambridge Partnership is the local delivery body for a City Deal with central government, and working in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and University of Cambridge.

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 means that we can build further on this achievement by trialling exciting new autonomous projects with our partners in Cambridge and Sunderland, and at the same time advancing the technology as we extend our Scottish bus trial to cover a longer route.”