Stagecoach’s prototype driverless bus (Buses last month) is expected to be ready by the end of this year.
The group has confirmed that a 12m Alexander Dennis Enviro200 is under development at the manufacturer’s Guildford premises, incorporating the CAVstar system that uses radar, laser, camera, ultrasound and satellite navigation to detect and avoid objects — in all weather, day and night — and plan an optimum path for the vehicle. This system was used in the UK’s largest trial to date of autonomous vehicles in Greenwich, southeast London earlier this year.
This will be the first full-size driverless bus in the UK. Initially it will be confined within the environs of a depot, operating without a driver when parking and moving into a fuelling station and bus wash. Stagecoach believes that the use of self-drive vehicles within depots could improve safety, efficiency and the utilisation of limited space.
Group engineering director Sam Greer says that, over the longer term, such technology could also help transform bus travel in the future.