A joint project by transport group Stagecoach, ADL and technology company Fusion Processing may be set to put bus drivers out of a job. Together, the companies have produced a single-deck bus, which has the ability to function completely autonomously. Testing of the bus is set to take place before the end of the year.
The ‘Enviro200’ is fitted with the same CAVstar system that was used successfully in the autonomous vehicles trialled in Greenwich earlier this year. The CAVstar system, which is provided by Fusion Processing, works by using a combination of satellite navigation and a range of sensors to detect and avoid obstacles and to find a clear path for the vehicle to take.
Although the bus could be ready for autonomous use by the end of the year, due to legal restrictions, it is unlikely that it will be used autonomously during passenger services any time in the near future.
However, it will be used to make small movements in the bus depot to improve safety, efficiency and space utilisation. Additionally, the sensors, although not used to drive the bus, remain active while the bus is in manual mode, helping drivers to detect hazards, pedestrians or cyclists in blind spots.
Sam Greer, Bus Engineering Director for Stagecoach UK, says that the Enviro200 is the future of bus travel: “This is an exciting trial that will deliver the UK’s first fully autonomous single deck bus. We look forward to working with our partners on this project which we believe could, in time, help improve safety and efficiency within our depots, and in the long term, help transform bus travel in the future.”