Bristol – Fusion Processing Ltd has announced plans to continue the development of its CAVStar® Automated Driving System as part of the second phase of the UK government- and industry-funded CAVForth autonomous bus project in Scotland. The new phase, known as CAVForth 2, will extend the current 19-mile route from Edinburgh to Fife by an additional five miles into Dunfermline city center.
The £10.4 million expansion of the project will allow for further testing of the buses’ Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities in challenging urban driving conditions. The aim of the project is to demonstrate how autonomous buses can improve journey times and quality of service for customers while also reducing energy consumption and emissions.
The latest generation of CAVStar® technology will be fitted to a fully-electric Enviro100AEV bus from consortium partner Alexander Dennis. The bus will join the existing fleet of five Enviro200AV diesel buses, capable of carrying over 10,000 passengers per week.
The CAVForth 2 project is funded by the UK government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and project partners Fusion Processing Ltd, Alexander Dennis, Stagecoach, Transport Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, and Bristol Robotics Laboratory, UWE. The project will have specially-trained safety drivers on board to monitor the autonomous systems and a bus ‘Captain’ who will assist passengers and answer questions.
According to Business Secretary Grant Shapps, the self-driving vehicle industry has the potential to add tens of billions to the UK economy and create tens of thousands of jobs. Jamie Wilson, Head of Concepts and Advanced Engineering at Alexander Dennis, said that the renewed support from the CCAV will allow the company to further develop autonomous bus technology in the UK and secure jobs in the automotive industry.
The CAVStar® technology uses a suite of state-of-the-art sensors, including cameras, LiDAR, and Radar, along with artificial intelligence processing to deliver efficient and smooth journeys in all weather conditions. The technology is capable of operating at SAE Level 4 and features redundancy on all safety-critical systems, reducing the need for a human driver. The use of autonomous vehicles in public transport networks is expected to improve air quality, particularly in cities, as they reduce emissions and particulate pollution.