Bristol, UK – November 19th: Fusion Processing Ltd today announced that in partnership with Stagecoach, Alexander Dennis Limited and Transport Scotland, it has revealed the first glimpse of the new special livery for the autonomous buses launching in Scotland in 2022.
It is the next key milestone in CAVForth, a pilot project lead by Fusion Processing Ltd, which will see full-sized SAE Level 4 autonomous buses running on UK roads for the first time next year. The new service will be made up of four Alexander Dennis Enviro200 single deck buses running a 14-mile route crossing the iconic Forth Road Bridge. It will provide capacity for up to 10,000 passengers a week, connecting Ferrytoll Park & Ride in Fife with the Edinburgh Park transport hub and is expected to be popular with commuters, students, day trippers and tourists as well as novelty riders keen to be first to say they have been driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The new service will make it easy for people to switch to public transport by providing a brand new bus route in the heart of East Scotland. It comes off the back of the COP26 climate change summit where bus operator Stagecoach said that the fastest way to make progress towards the UK’s net zero ambitions is by people switching from making car journeys and instead travelling by public transport, cycling or walking.
The four Enviro200 buses, which will feature the special new livery, are currently being fitted out with Fusion Processing Ltd’s automated drive system; CAVstar. CAVstar is a ground-breaking Automated Driving System (ADS) that combines Radar, LiDAR, optical cameras with high performance processing and AI to enable the buses to operate at SAE Level 4 in the highly complex Operational Design Domain that includes motorways, A-roads, minor roads, bus lanes, roundabouts, junctions and traffic lights.
The vehicles are also being modified to have a second set of steering and braking systems which are designed in as backup systems for increased safety. The automated driving system is therefore expected to improve safety in addition to energy savings through optimised application of throttle and brakes. The buses are put through their paces with an array of virtual and track testing to ensure all systems are functioning as expected before on-road testing begins later this year.
Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing Ltd CEO, said: “We are delighted to be leading on the world’s most complex and ambitious autonomous vehicle programme. CAVForth is an exciting pilot service and a great demonstration of our automated vehicle technology. The vehicles are fitted with CAVstar, our automated driving system which combines our own hardware and software to create, safe, full-sized buses, operating at SAE Level 4. The buses will be operating on a 28 mile round trip route that includes motorways, single carriageway A-roads, minor roads, bus lanes, roundabouts and junctions with and without traffic lights. We believe it will be the most comprehensive Autonomous bus demonstration to date.”
Sam Greer, Regional Director for Stagecoach in Scotland, said: “We are all very excited to be marking the next major milestone in our autonomous bus project, with buses planned to be on the road in early summer next year. The new service will provide a bus link between Fife and Edinburgh Park which currently does not exist and we hope will encourage more people to ditch the car, skip traffic jams and enjoy a relaxed journey in a dedicated bus lane and with new innovative state of the art technology.”
Paul Davies, ADL President & Managing Director, said: “As the UK bus industry’s innovation leader, we are constantly exploring new ways to further increase efficiency and safety. The trial of the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus service gives us an outstanding opportunity to gain real-world experience. We are also working closely with our colleagues across NFI Group who are developing similar, promising projects.”
Minister for Transport Graeme Dey said: “This is another welcome step forward for the incredibly exciting Project CAVForth, as we move closer to seeing it go live next year.
“This type of innovation shows Scotland is very much open for business when it comes to trialling this technology. This ground-breaking and globally significant project will really help the country establish its credentials on the world stage.”