World’s first self-driving bus service to hit UK roads next month

Full-sized, self-driving buses will begin to offer public services in Scotland next month, in what is said to be a world first. The service from Stagecoach — which will include five single-decker autonomous buses — will launch on May 15. It will cover a 14-mile route between the Ferrytoll park-and-ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park train and tram interchange, including a crossing of the Forth Road Bridge.

According to Stagecoach, each of the vehicles will be equipped with special sensors that will enable them to travel on pre-selected roads at up to 50 miles per hour.

While each of the buses will drive themselves, however, they will still be carrying two members of staff on board.

A safety driver will sit in the driver’s seat to monitor the technology, and a so-called bus captain will help passengers with boarding, buying tickets, and handle other queries.

The Scottish Government’s transport minister, Kevin Stewart, said: “This is an exciting milestone for this innovative and ambitious project, and I very much look forward to seeing Project CAVForth take to the roads next month.

“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.”

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Stagecoach UK managing director Carla Stockton-Jones added: “We are excited to introduce the UK’s first autonomous bus fleet in east Scotland which is also home to our headquarters and where it all began over 40 years ago.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of transport innovation with this project that marks a significant milestone for public transport and we look forward to welcoming our customers on board in the coming months.”

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