© stagecoach group

The UK’s first full-size autonomous bus maneuvered around real-life road features including a cyclist on its first public demonstration, last week in Birmingham. The vehicle, which uses sensors including radar, lasers, cameras and ultrasound to detect its surroundings, independently negotiated obstacles in the car park of the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham during the Coach & Bus UK show.

Members of the public traveled on the 11.5m Alexander Dennis Enviro200 bus as it moved autonomously from a mock-up bus wash to a fueling station and a bus stop.

Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis and Stagecoach Group developed the vehicle for CAVForth, a public trial starting next year using five autonomous buses on a 15-mile route between Fife and Edinburgh – including the Forth Road Bridge. The buses will operate autonomously to Level 4 standard, meaning a driver must remain on board during any journey, in line with UK regulations.

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The vehicle’s autonomy is provided by Fusion Processing’s CAVstar control and sensing system, integrated with the vehicle’s steering, throttle and braking systems. CAVstar was used in the UK’s largest public trial of autonomous vehicles in Greenwich last year, involving a number of other projects including a two-seater Renault Twizy and an off-road vehicle.

“Our industry, our customers and our employees can benefit hugely from autonomous technology as it makes our services safer, more efficient and helps deliver better journeys,” said Stagecoach Group chief executive Martin Griffiths.

Fusion Processing CEO Jim Hutchinson said, “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to publicly demonstrate the finesse with which the bus negotiates the complex route we’ve set for it. This is a testimony to the skills of the engineers at Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis and Stagecoach Group, and the working partnership we’ve formed. We’re very much looking forward to moving into the operational phase of CAVForth next year.”

The CAVForth project is led by autonomous technology innovators Fusion Processing Ltd, along with partners Stagecoach Group, Transport Scotland, Alexander Dennis Ltd (ADL), Edinburgh Napier University, Bristol Robotics Lab and the University of the West of England.

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