- AB1, the first of its kind in the U.K., navigates a 14-mile route in Scotland, transporting up to 10,000 passengers weekly.
- Part of the CAVForth project, this trial with five autonomous buses will operate until 2025, backed by a consortium of partners including Stagecoach, Fusion Processing, and several universities.
- The buses are equipped with advanced sensors and AI, while a human safety driver and a staff member for passenger interactions are present on board.
Just another manic Monday in the U.K., but not for the reason you might think. This past Monday saw the coolly anticipated debut of the U.K.'s first ever full-sized, self-driving bus service. Yes, you heard that right - an autonomous bus service, where the only bus driver you'll be yelling at for missing your stop is...a computer.
Meet the AB1, the swanky new bus route that’s making waves in Scotland, cruising a 14-mile stretch from the Ferrytoll Park and Ride in Fife to the Edinburgh Park Transport Interchange. This route, taking in the views across the iconic Forth Road Bridge, can ferry up to 10,000 passengers per week. Stagecoach, the public transport firm running the show, assures it won’t break your bank either; a standard single adult ticket is just £7.20, or about $9 for our stateside friends.
Last week, Stagecoach heralded this launch as a crucial waypoint on the path of self-driving technology. They stated that the AB1 is likely the first registered bus service in the world to employ full-sized autonomous buses. Now that's a claim to fame!
This trailblazing trial, which forms part of the CAVForth project, will keep on rolling until 2025. A quintet of these autonomous buses, equipped with cutting-edge sensors and artificial intelligence, will be hitting the roads at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. While a human safety driver must be present at all times (just in case), another crew member will be on hand to handle tickets and answer any burning questions from the awe-struck passengers.
Who's behind this radical feat of technology, you might ask? A whole ensemble of partners including Stagecoach, Fusion Processing, Transport Scotland, Bristol Robotics Lab, Alexander Dennis, the University of the West of England, and Edinburgh Napier University. And let's not forget the funding from the U.K. government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. It's a team effort all around.
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