Already this week begins two-week tests of passenger buses without passengers, which are expected to lead to universal public transport in the UK. On their basis, a new public pilot service will begin later this year, transporting passengers over a 22.5-kilometer route.
Autonomous passenger bus tests are about to start soon, with the aim of bringing them to the public service over time
As part of a pilot project that has been in development since 2020, five Dennis Enviro200 SAE Level 4 single-deck autonomous buses will travel over the Firth of Forth via the 2.5-kilometer Forth Road Bridge, carrying passengers between Ferrytool Park & Ride in Fife and the rail and tram junction in Edinburgh. Each bus is designed to carry up to 36 passengers on the new 22.5 km route, bringing the potential to 10,000 commuters, students, daytime travelers and tourists per week.
Each bus has the CAVstar automated driving system from Fusion Processing, which combines radar, LiDAR and optical cameras with technologies built around artificial intelligence to provide Level 4 autonomy in complex traffic scenarios. This includes driving on highways, major and minor roads, bus lanes, roundabouts, intersections and traffic lights.
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The Stagecoach operator intends to hire a group of experienced bus drivers who will monitor the on-board systems, because, as usual, each bus will have a driver responsible for safety on board. The latter will take over the helm with a second set of steering and braking systems in the event of a problem and will also answer passengers’ questions.