World renowned Camelon coachbuilder Alexander Dennis Ltd (ADL) has constructed a single decker bus which can operate without a driver.
Now the vehicle, the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus, is undergoing trials in Manchester, where it is able to operate with no driver at the steering wheel within the confines of Sharston bus depot.
The project is part of a programme being delivered by ADL, transport operator Stagecoach and technology company Fusion Processing.
According to ADL the technology being used to drive the 11.5 metre ADL Enviro200 vehicle, which is fitted with Fusion Processing’s CAVstar system, could also provide future road safety benefits for manually operated vehicles.
The sensor system on the vehicle can be used to provide assistance to the driver by warning of cyclists or pedestrians who may be in the blind spot or arrive unexpectedly close to the vehicle.
The software being used in the pilot vehicle also forms the basis for a significant autonomous vehicle trial due to get underway in 2020, when a fleet of five autonomous buses similar to the CAVstar adapted ADL Enviro200 will operate, carrying passengers, between Fife and Edinburgh, across the Forth Road Bridge Corridor.
Colin Robertson, ADL chief executive, said: “Alexander Dennis is at the forefront of innovation in the bus industry. This trial allows us to evaluate potential benefits of autonomous technology in a real-world scenario, and feeds into our extensive work to further improve the safety of buses with the help of state-of-the-art technology.”
Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths added: “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.”