UK Launches World’s First Driverless Bus Service

UK Launches World’s First Driverless Bus Service

image provided by pixabay

This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

The UK is set to roll out the world’s first automated local bus service network in Scotland, starting next week on May 15th. The buses will have safety drivers on standby on each of them, to monitor the technology and potentially take over if needed. The operation will include five buses and aims to carry 10,000 passengers a week over a 22.5 km route.

Peter Stevens, policy director of Stagecoach bus service spoke to AFP after a demonstration near Edinburgh and said- “the autonomous technology on this bus has been tested before but this is the first time that it has been put on to a bus that’s now a registered local bus service.”

The UK law does not permit fully autonomous vehicles, therefore requires the safety drivers to be onboard. The drivers do not touch the controls while the bus is in autonomous mode. The system is set to detect other road users and prevent collisions, and has optical cameras and a radar to scan the road to check for pedestrians.

Stevens claims that the service would be safer, more fuel efficient and would provide a better experience to customers. He said “The system is designed to increase safety, the driver has now got a 360-degree vision, and the system can respond faster than a human can in terms of reaction time. There’s always going to be a safety driver in the seat even when the bus is driving itself. So that if there is a need for them to take control, they can take control.”

The control system of the bus includes an AI engine that collects information from all throughout the bus, determines its exact location, and calculates the safest route. Stevens said the buses would be learning the route continually and collecting thousands of hours of data a month. “As the service starts, we’ll be collecting more data and then we’ll be increasing the amount of autonomous travel,” he said.

This launch is sure to change the way we use public transport, and we are sure to be seeing more similar services throughout the world.