UK's first autonomous buses begin carrying passengers in Scotland

Scotland has launched a pilot for a regular, autonomous bus service, the first of its kind in the UK.

Five single-deck buses will run on a 22.5 km route across the Forth Road Bridge from Ferrytoll Park-and-ride in Fife to Edinburgh Park station in the Scottish capital.

The AB1 is the UK's first registered autonomous bus route; one way takes 25-30 minutes.

Five autonomous Alexander Dennis Enviro200AV vehicles are now registered for the local bus service.

It can manoeuvre through roundabouts, cross multiple lanes and stop before a red light.

However, current UK law does not permit fully autonomous vehicles so services will require a "safety driver" onboard to monitor the technology, and a "captain" to take tickets.

Ahead of the launch, the staff have completed over 10 hours of training on a couple of roads, on tracks and a closed circuit.

The safety driver takes on the twists and turns but has their hands off the steering wheel most of the time.

The operator Stagecoach believes the autonomous technology will boost fuel efficiency, safety, and customer experience.

"First of all the systems are designed to increase safety. The driver has now got 360-degree vision, and the system can respond faster than a human can in terms of reaction time," said Peter Stevens, the policy director at Stagecoach bus service.

"Secondly, there's always going to be a safety driver in the seat even when the bus is driving itself. So that if there is a need for them to take control, they can take control," he added.

The trial is part of a UK government-funded project named CAVForth and will operate on a trial basis until 2025.

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