Pearlescent livery marks step forward for UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus service

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The autonomous bus service trial is due to go live in Scotland in early summer 2022 as a partnership between Fusion Processing, Stagecoach, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland

Stagecoach, in partnership with Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland, has revealed the special new livery for the autonomous bus project, CAVForth, launching in Scotland in 2022.

The project is the next key milestone in the trial which will see the first-full sized autonomous buses running on UK roads for the first time next year. The new service will use four single-deck buses running a 14-mile route, including crossing the iconic Forth Road Bridge. It will provide capacity for up to 10,000 passengers a week, connecting Fife’s Ferrytoll Park & Ride with Edinburgh Park’s transport hub, and is expected to be popular with commuters, students, day-trippers, tourists and novelty riders keen to be first to say they have been driven by a computer.

Stagecoach said the new service will make it easy for people to switch to public transport by providing a brand new route in the heart of East Scotland. It comes on the back of the COP26 climate change summit where the operator said that the fastest way to make progress towards the UK’s net zero ambitions is by people switching from making car journeys and instead travelling by public transport, cycling or walking.

The four specially-liveried buses are currently being fitted out with the necessary sensor and control technology, developed and supplied by project lead Fusion Processing that allows them to become computer-driven. The vehicles are also being put through their paces with an array of virtual and track testing to ensure all systems are functioning as expected before on-road testing begins later this year.

The colours and design were chosen through consultation with local communities and a decision made to ensure the vehicles stand out on the road. The ‘AB’ logo, stands for autonomous bus and is an icon that Stagecoach hopes to see become a standard identifier of autonomous vehicles in the future. The company said that design of the livery is intended to ensure that the buses still feel like a regular bus, and are easily identifiable with the well-known Stagecoach brand, whilst also acknowledging the array of project partners who are making this world-leading pilot service a reality: Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis, Transport Scotland, Napier University, Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England, as well the funding partner; the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

Sam Greer, Regional Director for Stagecoach in Scotland said: “We are all very excited to be marking the next major milestone in our autonomous bus project, with buses planned to be on the road in early summer next year. The new service will provide a bus link between Fife and Edinburgh Park which currently does not exist and we hope will encourage more people to ditch the car, skip traffic jams and enjoy a relaxed journey in a dedicated bus lane and with new innovative state of the art technology.”

Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing CEO, said: “We are delighted to be leading on the world’s most complex and ambitious autonomous vehicle programme. CAVForth is an exciting pilot service and a great demonstration of our automated vehicle technology. The vehicles are fitted with CAVstar, our automated driving system which combines our own hardware and software to create, safe, AV Level 4 full sized buses. The buses will be operating on a 28-mile round trip route that includes motorways, single carriageway A-roads, minor roads, bus lanes, roundabouts and junctions with and without traffic lights. We believe it will be the most comprehensive Autonomous bus demonstration to date.”

The new route hopes to make it attractive for people to make the switch from car to bus. STAGECOACH