Scotland is set to launch its first driverless bus network next week, with plans for buses to run without any input from human drivers. The operator has announced that the world’s first automated local bus service will run on a 22.5-kilometer route with five single-deck buses, carrying an estimated 10,000 passengers a week.
While the buses will be able to travel up to 80 km/h, UK law does not currently allow fully autonomous vehicles, so a safety driver will remain behind the wheel in case of emergency. A conductor will also be on board to handle ticketing and passenger inquiries.
The buses will use an Advance Driver Assistance System (ADAS) which utilizes optical cameras and radar to check for pedestrians, while an onboard system will detect other road users to avoid collisions. The control system also includes an artificial intelligence engine that uses data from the bus to locate it and calculate the safest route.
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Stagecoach bus service policy director Peter Stevens praised the new service, saying, “The autonomous technology on this bus has been tested before, but this is the first time that it has been put on to a bus that’s now a registered local bus service.” He also promised a safer, more fuel-efficient, and better customer experience with the new service.
Overall, this marks a major step forward in the development of autonomous vehicles in Scotland and beyond.