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Passengers travel on full-size self-driving bus for the first time in the UK

Passengers travel on full-size self-driving bus for the first time in the UK

The Stagecoach bus carried 22 passengers on the history-making trip

Passengers have travelled on a full-size self-driving bus for the first time in the UK.

The autonomous single-decker carried 22 volunteers on a journey over the Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh on Thursday (19 January).

The Stagecoach bus has sensors which mean it can run on pre-selected roads without the driver having to take control of the vehicle.

The overall aim is to have five self-driving buses running regular services between Ferrytoll park-and-ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park train and tram interchange via the bridge - and they're hoping to have that in place by spring.

The buses will cover the 14-mile route in mixed traffic at speeds of up to 50mph, with capacity for around 10,000 journeys per week.

Passengers who travelled on the bus during the test journey were part of a co-design panel consisting of local bus users providing ideas on how an autonomous service should work.

22 passengers made history.
PA

Fleur Dijkman, who rode on the bus after joining the panel through a forum for young people, said: "I wasn't worried at all about it.

"You wouldn't know the difference between this and a normal bus from the driving.

"This is something I never thought I would be involved with. I've really enjoyed having the opportunity to share my opinions and bring my thoughts forward.

"It’s brilliant to see it come through and become this actual thing from a few drawings. It was quite exciting, the thought of getting on for the first time."

Before letting the self-driving buses loose on the roads, it had to be put through its paces in trials at depots and on tracks along with virtual simulations.

The vehicles won't be left to their own devices when the service is up and running either.

Each bus will have an experienced driver monitoring the system alongside a bus captain who will help passengers with boarding, buying tickets and any queries.

Stagecoach is partnering with Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland for the project, and the scheme has won the financial support of the UK Government's Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

The buses will cover a 14-mile route.
PA

Ivan McKee, the Scottish Government's business minister, said: "This is another hugely significant step forward for the CAVForth project that brings us closer to these autonomous vehicles entering service.

"It has been really encouraging to watch the project develop through the various steps, from early testing and demonstrations through to carrying of passengers along the route for the first time.

"Our trunk road network can provide a wide range of environments as a diverse testing ground, and the ground-breaking and globally significant Project CAVForth will really help Scotland establish its credentials on the world stage."

Louise Simpson, operations director and CAVForth lead project manager for Stagecoach, said: "We are really excited to have reached this next major milestone in our project plan to deliver the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus, which has seen us successfully carry a group of passengers on one of the new buses.

"Until today, only project team members had been able to trial the autonomous service so it's great that our co-design panel have had this opportunity, and we welcome any views they have to ensure we deliver a great, inclusive and accessible service to our customers when we launch in the spring."

Featured Image Credit: Robert Evans/Alamy Stock Photo/Stagecoach

Topics: UK News, Travel