Scotland is to host the trial of the first autonomous full-sized passenger bus fleet after
Innovate UK announced funding to support a successful bid from bus operator Stagecoach
along with partners Transport Scotland, Alexander Dennis Ltd (ADL),Fusion Processing Ltd,
ESP Group, Edinburgh Napier University and University of West of England.
The trial – to begin during 2019 – will include five autonomous single deck vehicles which
will run between Fife and Edinburgh across the Forth Road Bridge.
The bus – operated by Stagecoach East Scotland – will be used autonomously to Level 4
standard which means that a driver must remain on board during any journey in line with UK
Funding of £4.35million has been awarded by the UK Government through Innovate UK with
additional investment from operator Stagecoach, Transport Scotland, vehicle manufacturer
ADL, technology company Fusion Processing Ltd, and mobility services specialist ESP
Once complete, the 11.8m ADL Enviro200 vehicles will operate between Ferrytoll Park &
Ride facility in Fife and the Edinburgh Park Train and Tram interchange. The bus will use
both on-road and hard shoulder running, and will use the dedicated public transport corridor
across the Forth Road Bridge that allows buses and taxis to use dedicated lanes between
the M9 near Newbridge and Halbeath in Fife.
The autonomous buses will provide a service capable of carrying up to 42 passengers
14miles across the Forth Bridge to Edinburgh Park Train and Tram interchange. With buses
every 20 minutes this could provide an estimated 10,000 weekly journeys
Work on the project is expected to get underway during the second quarter of next year at
ADL’s manufacturing depot in Guildford with the first vehicles expected to go into service
The project partners said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded this funding and we are
excited to further test the potential for autonomous technology in the future within public
transport using full size single deck buses, which so far has not been achieved anywhere
else in the world. Drivers will still be required on all vehicles at all time while in service for
passenger safety and to comply with UK legislation.”
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:
“This is a very exciting development and underlines the potential Scotland has when it
comes to connected and autonomous vehicles.
“The Forth has been at the centre of engineering innovation over three centuries and it is
fitting that it will be central to this next innovation in transport and our Programme for
Government commitments to intelligent mobility.
“The deployment of these vehicles in Scotland will bring transformative change to the way
we travel and work, as well as having a positive impact on the economy, the environment
and safety. This collaborative trial, using one of the country’s most iconic transport corridors,
shows Scotland is very much open for business in this innovative sector.
“I very much welcome the strong Scottish contingent in the bid team and I look forward to
following this project with great interest.”
Announcing the funding, UK Government Business Secretary Greg Clark said:
“Autonomous vehicles and their technology will not only revolutionise how we travel, it will
open up and improve transport services for those who struggle to access both private and
“The UK is building on its automotive heritage and strengths to develop the new vehicles and
technologies and from 2021 the public will get to experience the future for themselves.”
Stagecoach, ADL and Fusion Processing announced earlier this year that work was
underway to trial the first full-sized autonomous vehicle within a Stagecoach depot.
Work on the vehicle is currently being carried out at ADL’s site in Guildford and the bus is
expected to be ready for use at the beginning of 2019.
In the short term, the bus will be used in autonomous mode only within the depot
environment, to carry out movements such as parking and moving into the fuelling station
and bus wash. Using self-driving vehicles within depots more widely could help improve
safety, efficiency and space utilisation within the depot.
Stagecoach’ has made a significant investment in new technologies to improve transport for
customers and make its services more efficient. It includes the UK’s biggest roll-out of
contactless payment technology on buses, automated vehicle location systems to provide
live bus information, and telematics technology to deliver smoother and more fuel efficient