Forth Road Bridge driverless buses: Here's how the technology works

It has emerged today that people in Edinburgh and Fife will be among some of the first in the UK to experience self-driving vehicle services as part of a number of new public trials.

Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 15:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 15:39 pm
The trial will include five autonomous vehicles running between Fife and Edinburgh across the Forth Road Bridge public transport corridor. Picture: Stagecoach Group

Three pilots have been announced, ranging from self-driving taxis to autonomous buses, that will get a share of a £25 million grant in a bid to bring self-driving vehicles onto UK roads by 2021.

An autonomous bus pilot in Edinburgh, known as Project CAV Forth, received a £4.35 million slice of the fund, paving the way for a service running from the Forth Bridge into Edinburgh Park Train and Tram interchange.

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Five Alexander Dennis single-decker manual buses will be converted as part of the pilot, carrying up to 42 passengers for 14 miles.

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So how does the technology on these driverless buses actually work?

Fusion Processing’s state-of-the-art CAVstar sensor and control system will be the ‘brains’ of the autonomous bus.

It combines powerful software and possessors with GPS, optical sensors, ultrasonic, radar (for long range) and LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging for close range) to enable autonomous vehicles to detect and safely negotiate objects in their path.

The radar sensors dotted around the bus monitor the position of vehicles nearby.

A video camera at the front will detect traffic lights, read road signs and keep track of other vehicles, while looking out for pedestrians and other obstacles. There are also low light cameras on the side of the buses.

Lidar sensors help to detect the edges of roads and identify lane markings by bouncing pulses of light off the vehicle’s surroundings.

Ultrasonic sensors in the wheels can detect the position of kerbs and other vehicles when parking.

This combination of technology also enables the autonomous bus to operate in adverse weather conditions and even in the dark - a global first for this technology in the UK.

It can be fitted to almost any automotive vehicle, giving level four autonomy.

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