Scotland got its first glimpse of Europe’s first full-sized autonomous bus at a major summit in Glasgow today. The demonstration of the Alexander Dennis Enviro200, which took place as part of the Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Summit (CAV Scotland), enabled a first-hand view of some of the autonomous technology that will be used as part of the trial taking place across the Forth Road Bridge next year.

The Alexander Dennis Enviro200 bus being demonstrated at CAV Scotland has already carried out extensive trials at Stagecoach’s depot in Manchester in the first part of the autonomous bus project.

Following this success, Stagecoach, Alexander Dennis and Fusion Processing Ltd are now working with Transport Scotland, Bristol Robotics Laboratory and Napier University on Project CAVForth, which will see five autonomous buses operating between Ferrytoll Park and Ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park Train and Tram interchange in 2020. These buses, which are currently in development, will see additional autonomous technology installed that enable them to run on selected roads.

The buses – which will be operated by Stagecoach East Scotland – will provide a service capable of carrying up to 42 passengers the 14 miles across the bridge, with capacity for up to 10,000 passengers a week. The buses will operate to Level 4 standard which means that a driver will remain on board during any journey in line with UK regulations.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “I really enjoyed attending the CAV Scotland event and hearing about the developments in this exciting and fast-moving industry over the past twelve months. I was particularly pleased to experience the demo of the prototype automated bus system as it’s the type of innovation that shows Scotland is very much open for business when it comes to trialling these types of vehicles. Our trunk road network can provide a wide range of environments as a diverse testing ground, and the ground-breaking and globally significant Project CAVForth will really help Scotland establish its credentials on the world stage.”

Colin Robertson, Alexander Dennis Chief Executive, said: “Alexander Dennis is leading innovation in the bus industry. This trial allows us to evaluate potential benefits of autonomous technology under real operating conditions, and feeds into our extensive work to further improve the safety of buses with the help of state-of-the-art technology.”

Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive of Stagecoach Group, added: “Stagecoach has always been at the forefront of innovation and we have a strong and successful track record in harnessing new technology to launch new products and break new ground. We’re therefore very pleased to be leading the way in Scotland’s first autonomous bus trial. Our industry, customers and employees can benefit hugely from autonomous technology as it can make services safer, more efficient and help to deliver better journeys. We’re also investing heavily in the skills and development of our people. Alongside new technology developments, our employees will continue to play a critical role in delivering sustainable mobility services that our customers trust and rely on.”

Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing CEO, said: “CAVForth builds on the existing relationship that Fusion has with the UK’s leading bus operator and bus manufacturer and adds the expertise of Transport Scotland, Bristol Robotics Lab and Napier University. Looking across the industry, CAVForth is the most advanced Autonomous Bus project we see anywhere to day. As well as providing autonomous systems, Fusion Processing will provide spin off projects from the technology that can help today’s manual driven buses, such as tech that can recognise pedestrians and cyclists and warn the driver, automated emergency braking and replacement of external mirrors with advanced vision systems.”