Multi-regional operator Stagecoach is set to become the first travel operator in the UK to trial self-driving buses.
The firm is to produce a single decker which is capable of operating without someone behind the wheel, in partnership with bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited and tech company Fusion Processing.
Sam Greer, bus engineering director for Stagecoach UK, said: “Stagecoach has long been at the heart of innovation within the bus industry and 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 over the longer term, help transform bus travel in the future.”
The bus will be used in driverless format inside the company’s depots initially, as current legislation will prevent it from being used on the road. However, it will be used for manoeuvres such as parking, refuelling and washing to demonstrate the capability of the technology.
Stagecoach said sensors in place to enable driverless journeys will also help improve safety when a driver is behind the wheel, by warning of cyclists or pedestrians in blind spots or anyone or anything that is unexpectedly close to the bus.
The system uses several sensors – including radar, laser, camera and ultrasound – along with satellite navigation to detect and avoid objects and plan routes.