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Self-driving bus demonstrated in Glasgow ahead of launch

The prototype self-driving bus was shown off at a trade show in Glasgow ahead of next years planned roll-out across the Forth Road Bridge.

A self-driving bus has been put through its paces during an autonomous vehicle trade show in Glasgow earlier this week. The prototype travelled around the SEC car park to demonstrate the advancements made in driver-less technology ahead of its planned roll-out next year.

Stagecoach plans to introduce self-driving services across the Forth Road Bridge next year and the autonomous buses – which will still require a driver to be present inside the vehicle by law – are set to be road-tested, without passengers on board, by the end of 2019.

Each of the five automated Stagecoach buses will seat 42 people and are expected to carry 10,000 passengers a week between Ferrytoll park-and-ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park train and tram interchange.

The prototype’s maiden Scottish journey was witnessed by Transport Secretary Michael Matheson at the Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Scotland event on Wednesday.

Mr Matheson said: “I was particularly pleased to experience the demo of the prototype automated bus system as it’s the type of innovation that shows Scotland is very much open for business when it comes to trialling these types of vehicles.

“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.”

Martin Griffiths, chief executive of Stagecoach Group, added:

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson in the self-driving bus (Stagecoach/PA)

Our industry, customers and employees can benefit hugely from autonomous technology as it can make services safer, more efficient and help to deliver better journeys.

We’re also investing heavily in the skills and development of our people. Alongside new technology developments, our employees will continue to play a critical role in delivering sustainable mobility services that our customers trust and rely on.

Martin Griffiths CEO, Stagecoach Group

The single-deck vehicles are the result of a collaboration between Stagecoach, Alexander Dennis and Fusion Processing, which is now also working with Transport Scotland, Bristol Robotics Laboratory and Napier University on what is known as Project CAVForth.

Alexander Dennis chief executive Colin Robertson said: “This trial allows us to evaluate potential benefits of autonomous technology under real operating conditions, and feeds into our extensive work to further improve the safety of buses with the help of state-of-the-art technology.”

Jim Hutchinson, chief executive of Fusion Processing, said: “Looking across the industry, CAVForth is the most advanced autonomous bus project we see anywhere to day”.

Cabinet Secretary Michael Matheson, Sam Greer, Technical and Engineering Services Director for Stagecoach and Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing CEO (Stagecoach/PA)

As well as providing autonomous systems, Fusion Processing will provide spin off projects from the technology that can help today’s manual driven buses, such as tech that can recognise pedestrians and cyclists and warn the driver, automated emergency braking, and replacement of external mirrors with advanced vision systems.

Jim Hutchinson CEO, Fusion Processing

Stagecoach started trialling the autonomous technology on a full-sized bus for the first time in the UK back in September. Two months on and it is a welcomed sight to see it taking further steps on its journey to launch.

If your business is in the process of trialling new products that have been in development, you could be eligible to claim up to 33p for every pound spent. Talk to us today to see how we can help you receive this back using the R&D Tax Credit scheme.