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UK’s first autonomous bus service

22 May 2023

The UK’s first autonomous bus service,, which Edinburgh Napier University has played a part in developing, has been officially launched.

Scotland’s Transport Minister Kevin Stewart was joined at the official media launch event at the Traffic Scotland National Control Centre today by Ray O’Toole, Executive Chairman for Stagecoach, as well as representatives from each of the CAVForth partners.  

CAVForth, is a collaborative project, comprising of Fusion Processing Ltd, Stagecoach, Alexander Dennis, Transport Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, Bristol Robotics Lab, and the University of the West of England. It is part-funded by the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV). 

The AB1 service is believed to be the first registered bus service in the world to use full sized autonomous buses.

The trial, which will now run until 2025, aims to demonstrate autonomous technology in a real-world environment transporting up to 10,000 passengers per week. During this time, the partners will make improvements and monitor the benefits for passengers, operations and society.

This key milestone in autonomous technology is the result of almost ten years of research and development from Fusion Processing Ltd, with their CAVStar system having covered over 1.8million kilometres in tests.  

A fleet of five Alexander Dennis Enviro200AV vehicles will cover the new 14-mile route, in mixed traffic, at up to 50mph across the iconic Forth Road Bridge from Ferrytoll Park & Ride, in Fife to Edinburgh Park Transport Interchange. 

The service will have two members of staff on board: a Safety Driver in the driver’s seat to monitor the technology, and a ‘Captain’ in the saloon to take tickets and answer customers questions. The Captain is there to demonstrate what a full-size autonomous bus might feel like in the future, when one member of staff can leave the cab while the computer does the driving, and engage with passengers, much like a conductor would have done.

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