World first self-driving bus trial to start carrying passengers

The vehicles will have a safety driver and 'captain' on board for the 14-mile journey between Edinburgh and Fife.

The world’s first fully self-driving bus service will begin between Edinburgh and Fife on Monday.

Operators Stagecoach say the AB1 route – which will take passengers between Ferrytoll park and ride in Fife and Edinburgh Park train and tram interchange – would have capacity for about 10,000 passenger journeys on its five vehicles every week.

The pilot, named Project CAVForth, will see a fleet of five Alexander Dennis Enviro200AV buses equipped with software allowing them to cover the new 14-mile route, in mixed traffic, at up to 50mph.

Two staff members, a safety driver and ‘captain,’ will join passengers on board to ensure the service operates as it should.

Transport minister Kevin Stewart hailed the trial as “innovative and ambitious,” adding: “It is really exciting to see the CAVForth Project take to the roads in earnest after all the hard work of the partner organisations involved in bringing this world first to Scotland. 

“We want Scotland to continue to be at the forefront in the development of connected and autonomous vehicles and the start of this live trial will really help the country establish its credentials on the world stage. 

“I am excited to see how this technology can help to support our vision for a sustainable, inclusive, safe and accessible transport system.” 

The safety driver will remain on board throughout the journey to monitor the technology while the captain will be available to answer passenger queries as well as assist with boarding and buying tickets.

The pilot is due to run until 2025.

Stagecoach executive chairman, Ray O’Toole, said: “We are proud to be at the forefront of transport innovation with this project, marking a significant milestone for public transport and we look forward to welcoming our customers on board from Monday.”

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