UK launches the first self-driving bus line

UK launches the first self-driving bus line

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The first autonomous bus line will go into service next week in Edinburgh, a first in the UK, although chauffeurs will be present inside the vehicles to take over in an emergency.

“The self-driving technology on the bus has been tested in the past, but this is the first time it has been used on a bus line,” Peter Stephens, Director of Public Affairs at Stagecoach, told AFP during a presentation held Thursday near Edinburgh, reports Al-Qabas daily..

This line, which extends for about 22 kilometers in the west of the Scottish capital, will host approximately 10,000 passengers per week.

On the five buses put into service, which will be allowed to travel at speeds of up to 50km per hour, a driver will nonetheless be present to check the situation, under British law which does not currently allow vehicles to run completely independently on public roads.

Another employee will also be on board to ensure that passengers have transportation tickets and answer their questions.

A system based on artificial intelligence will monitor other vehicles on the road to avoid collisions, while cameras and a radar will scan the road to avoid pedestrians.

According to Peter Stephens, this service will be safer and more efficient, and will provide fuel savings of up to 20%.

He explained that the vehicle system is able to “respond more quickly compared to human interaction” when needed, noting that these buses will provide more data over time to “improve the time of moving independently.”

In 2021, a driverless electric bus was put into service in the Spanish city of Malaga, in a project described as a European precedent. Similar experiments were conducted in South Korea in the same year and in Singapore in early 2023.

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