Autonomous bus with zero carbon emissions hits UK roads

Posted: 15 September 2023 | | No comments yet

The latest phase of the Mi-Link bus service will give First Bus the opportunity to showcase the potential unlocked by combining zero-emission and digital autonomous technology, offering a smarter and cleaner way to travel.

Autonomous bus with zero carbon emissions hits UK roads

Credit: First Bus

First Bus has announced that a full-size single-decker bus equipped with autonomous driving capabilities and producing zero carbon emissions has taken to the road in the UK for the first time.

Operated by First Bus, the Mi-Link 003 service is set to provide seamless transportation for passengers commuting between Didcot Parkway train station and Milton Park, a prominent science, technology and business community nestled in Oxfordshire. Milton Park houses over 270 companies and employs approximately 9,000 individuals.

The innovative service commenced operations on 7 September 2023 and consists of 28 seats, operating from 07:00 to 18:30 Monday to Saturday. The trial period will conclude on 30 September 2023.

The bus’s autonomous capabilities have been made possible by Fusion Processing’s CAVstar® Automated Drive System, which incorporates an intelligent controller, high-performance processor and a suite of sensors including radar, LiDAR and cameras. These advanced technologies work in unison to oversee steering, acceleration and braking, eliminating the need for human intervention.

UK’s first zero-emission autonomous bus service launched in Oxfordshire

John Birtwistle, Head of Policy at First Bus and the leader of the MultiCAV consortium responsible for delivering this service, said: “The next phase in this ground-breaking bus service gives us the opportunity to show more customers the exciting possibilities afforded by combining zero-emission and digital autonomous technology to provide a smarter, cleaner and quieter way to travel.”

This latest phase marks an important progression in the UK’s only zero-emission autonomous bus trials. In early 2023, an all-electric Mellor Orion E minibus underwent a successful seven-week trial, covering over 3,000 miles. The project kicked off with a pilot in March 2023, deploying a smaller autonomous bus on a circular route within Milton Park, situated between Didcot and Abingdon.

One of the primary goals of this programme is to significantly reduce carbon emissions through the utilisation of all-electric buses in autonomous mode. During the previous phase, more than 500 trips resulted in savings of nearly 1.5 tonnes of carbon.

To ensure safety throughout the journey, a dedicated safety driver will be present on-board at all times, providing personalised service and information to passengers.