Project CAVForth starts road trials of autonomous buses

Road trials for the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus begin this week as part of project CAVForth in Scotland.

Fusion Processing

Stagecoach, in partnership with Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland, will be carrying out on-road testing of the autonomous bus over the next two weeks in preparation for the launch of the CAVForth pilot service in late summer.

Jointly funded by the UK government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), the Project CAVForth pilot will see five single-deck autonomous buses operating at SAE Level 4 over the Forth Road Bridge between Ferrytoll Park and Ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park Train and Tram interchange.

In a statement, Chris Gall, ADL group engineering director, said: “The start of on-route testing is a milestone for our autonomous bus project. In partnership with Stagecoach, Fusion Processing and Transport Scotland, Project CAVForth helps us to explore new technologies that will make buses even safer and even more efficient. As we move towards passenger services later in the year, the project will be a landmark demonstration of future technologies in transport.”

The buses are fitted with CAVstar, Fusion Processing’s sensor and control technology that enables them to run on pre-selected roads without the safety driver having to take control. Once operational the buses will provide a service capable of carrying up to 36 passengers over the 14 miles across the bridge, with capacity for over 10,000 passengers a week.

The on-road testing in Scotland follows depot-based trials, track testing and virtual simulation.

As part of project CAVForth, around 500 members of the public have helped with the implementation of the new autonomous bus service on it by providing feedback on what would make them feel comfortable and confident in travelling. Built on the feedback received, the partners have developed a vision for the new autonomous vehicles, which includes making sure future autonomous bus services still have a member of staff on board.