The UK’s first full-sized bus with driverless technology is being trailed by transport operator Stagecoach.
The 11.5m ADL Enviro200 vehicle is now able to operate autonomously within its Sharston depot, including being used in autonomous mode within the depot to park and move into the bus wash.
Stagecoach says the technology being used could also provide future road safety benefits for vehicles operating in manual mode such as being used to provide assistance to the driver by warning of cyclists or pedestrians that may be in the blind spot or arrive unexpectedly close to the vehicle.
The system uses multiple sensor types including radar, LIDAR, optical cameras 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 software being used in the pilot vehicle also forms the basis for a significant autonomous vehicle trial due to get underway in 2020 when a fleet of five autonomous buses similar to this one will operate – carrying passengers – between Fife and Edinburgh, across the Forth Road Bridge Corridor.
The vehicles in both trials will be used autonomously to Level 4 standard which means that a safety driver must remain on board in line with UK regulations.
Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths said, “Stagecoach was the original transport disruptor, trying new things and breaking new ground, and that has never changed. This is an exciting project to trial autonomous technology on a full-sized bus for the first time in the UK.
“Our employees are the beating heart of our business and I believe that will remain the case, but the world is changing fast, particularly where new technology is involved, and it’s our job to lead the way in looking at ways to continually progress and improve our operations for the good of the many people who use our bus services every day.”
The project – involving a single-deck vehicle (pictured) – is part of a programme being delivered in partnership with bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited and technology company Fusion Processing.