CAVForth self-driving bus, May 2023

CAVForth success: The UK’s first self-driving bus service

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The UK’s first self-driving bus service: AB1 in Scotland

Congratulations to all involved in the CAVForth project. The UK’s first self-driving bus service (with a safety driver) is up and running – operating, according to the Stagecoach Bus website, a “frequent timetable from Monday 15th May with the capacity for around 10,000 passenger journeys per week”.

Officially still a trial, a fleet of five Alexander Dennis Enviro200AV buses will travel at up to 50mph from Ferrytoll Park & Ride in Fife to Edinburgh Park Transport Interchange – crossing the iconic Forth Road Bridge.

Self-driving success

When we interviewed Jim Hutchinson, CEO of Fusion Processing – the company behind the CAVstar software platform – back in 2021, he predicted that CAVForth would put the UK on the self-driving map. And it has.

Scotland’s Transport Minister, Kevin Stewart, and Ray O’Toole, Executive Chairman for Stagecoach, were among those at the media launch, with David Webb, Head of Innovation at the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), heralding it “a global first”.

The local Dunfermline Press carried this great video of CAVForth in action.

CAVForth self-driving bus

Future expansion

What next? In February, we reported that CAVForth2 had won a healthy share of £81m in combined government and industry funding in the Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility competition.

Alexander Dennis have confirmed that the project will extend the existing 14-mile route, taking it on to Dunfermline city centre. The additional five-mile section will feature more complex driving scenarios on busy A and B roads, including mixing with city centre traffic.

We still have the words of Jim Hutchinson ringing in our ears: “We developed the CAVstar platform as a scalable solution – a drive system we could put into pretty much any vehicle, from small cars up to HGV.”

Pictured L-R: Jim Hutchinson, CEO Fusion, Scottish Transport Minister, Kevin Stewart, Regional Director Stagecoach, Sam Greer, and Alexander Dennis President and Managing Director, Paul Davies.

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Author: Neil Kennett

Neil is MD of Featurebank Ltd. He launched in 2019.