A trial of what is thought to be the UK’s first driverless bus could take place by the end of the year.
The project is the result of a partnership between Stagecoach, bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) and technology company Fusion Processing coming together to produce a single deck autonomous bus.
Work on a 12m ADL Enviro200 vehicle is being carried out at ADL’s site in Guildford and the bus is expected to be ready for use by the end of this year – meaning it will be completely autonomous and able to operate without a driver in an off-road environment.
The bus will be fitted with the CAVstar system provided by Fusion Processing Ltd, which was used in the UK’s largest public trial of autonomous vehicles to date in Greenwich earlier this year.
‘The system uses multiple sensor types, including radar, laser, camera and ultrasound, along with satellite navigation to detect and avoid objects, in all weathers, day and night, and plan an optimum path for the vehicle,’ the partnership said in a statement.
Initially the bus will be used in autonomous mode only within its depot to carry out movements such as parking and moving into the fuelling station and bus wash, which itself could help improve safety, efficiency and space utilisation within the depot.
Legal restrictions mean the vehicle will not be used in autonomous mode in passenger service for some time.
Meanwhile when the bus is driven in manual mode, the sensor system on the bus can be used to provide assistance to the driver by warning of cyclists or pedestrians in a blind spot.
Stagecoach UK bus engineering director Sam Greer said: ‘We look forward to working with our partners on this project which we believe could, in time, help improve safety and efficiency within our depots, and over the longer term, help transform bus travel in the future.’