The UK’s first full-sized bus with driverless technology is being trialled by one of the UK’s biggest transport firms in Manchester.
The project is part of a programme being delivered by Stagecoach in partnership with bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) and technology company Fusion Processing.
A spokesman for Stagecoach said the vehicle uses autonomous functions to move around Sharston depot in Manchester, including radar, optical cameras and ultrasound, along with satellite navigation to detect and avoid objects, in all weathers, day and night, and to plan an optimum path for the vehicle.
The spokesman said the vehicle will be operated to ‘Level 4 standard’ which means that a safety driver will remain on board in line with UK regulations. And the technology can also be used to help improve the safety of road users in manually driven vehicles. For example, in providing assistance to the driver by warning of cyclists or pedestrians that may be in the blind spot or unexpectedly close to the vehicle.
The software being used in Manchester will form the basis of another pilot scheme next year involving five autonomous buses transporting passengers between Edinburgh and Fife across the Forth Road Bridge Corridor.
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 first public demonstration of the bus was held yesterday (March 18) and was attended by the Chief Executives of each partner organisation.
Also published on Medium.