Scotland Tests Single-Deck Autonomous Buses

Transport Scotland’s Project CAVForth has begun testing the use of single-deck autonomous buses on the Forth Road Bridge between the cities of Fife and Edinburgh. The primary objective of the program is to demonstrate the future ability to deliver a scheduled passenger service capable of carrying up to 10,000 passengers per week along the 28-mile (~45 km) route.

CAVForth buses are controlled by an automated drive system (ADS) that consists of an artificial intelligence (AI) controller and sensing system to allow the vehicle to drive autonomously. The system uses various sources of information from its sensors, GPS, and its in-built map to gain an understanding of its surroundings and its exact position. With this knowledge the vehicle can calculate a safe path to its required destination. The system is also designed to identify and track other road users to ensure there are no collisions. The optical cameras, lidars, and radar also scan either side of the road for potential pedestrians that may be about to step onto the road.

The CAVForth buses operate to SAE Level 4 Autonomy, which means that they are able to operate safely without human intervention, even if there is a system fault.  The buses have built in redundant steering and braking systems that take over if the primary systems should fail. As part of project CAVForth, about 500 members provided feedback on what would make them feel comfortable and confident in traveling on an autonomous bus. Based on the feedback received, the buses will run with a human driver on board.

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.”

Project CAVForth is partly funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), which is delivered in partnership with Innovate UK. It is part of the UK Government’s £100 million Intelligent Mobility Fund.