CAVForth autonomous bus project starts passenger service

Passenger services started today (May 15, 2023) on an autonomous bus service operating on a 14-mile route in Scotland.

Co-funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, CAVForth is led by Fusion Processing Ltd in collaboration with Stagecoach, Transport Scotland, Alexander Dennis, Edinburgh Napier University and Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

The CAVForth project’s fleet of five Alexander Dennis Enviro200AV autonomous single-decker buses will operate the service seven days a week on Stagecoach’s new AB1 route, departing Ferrytoll Park & Ride in Fife for Edinburgh Park interchange every 30 minutes.

The service is expected to transport 10,000 passengers a week on the route that crosses the Forth Road Bridge and is made up of A-roads, motorways, bus lanes and private land. Travelling in mixed traffic up to 50mph, the SAE Level 4 bus will have to negotiate traffic manoeuvres such as roundabouts, traffic lights, and ‘weaving’ motorway lane changes.

The buses use CAVStar, Fusion Processing’s autonomous drive system that utilises data from sensors including cameras, LiDAR and radar together with artificial intelligence processing to deliver optimum efficiency throughout the journey. In addition, receiving information directly from traffic light systems enables the bus to plan its speed to run smoothly run from one green light to the next, thereby reducing unnecessary braking and accelerating, contributing to less wear on brakes and tyres.

In a statement, Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing CEO, said: “CAVForth is an exciting showcase of how our CAVstar Automated Drive System can safely operate in a very complex driving environment. This pilot is globally significant and marks a step change in the operation of autonomous commercial vehicles on public roads.”

A trained safety driver will be onboard each bus and a second autonomous bus professional will act as a so-called bus captain, moving around the vehicle to engage with customers.

The recently announced CCAV funding for CAVForth II will see the project extended to 2025, with the route stretching north to Dunfermline City bus station in 2024.