The UK launched its first self-driving bus route

(Queensferry) An autonomous bus service will launch in Edinburgh next week for the first time in the UK, although drivers will remain in the vehicles to regain control in the event of an emergency.

“The autonomous technology on the bus has already been tested in the past, but this is the first time it has been used on a bus route,” Peter Stevens, director of public affairs for the bus, told AFP at Stagecoach. During a demonstration near Edinburgh on Thursday.

Located west of the Scottish capital, the new line, about 22 kilometers long, plans to carry about 10,000 passengers a week.

The five buses in service, which can operate at speeds of up to 50 km/h, will have a driver to check that the technology, which is not yet approved by British law, is working properly. Circulation of fully autonomous vehicles on public roads.

Another agent will be on board to check tickets and answer users’ queries.

An on-board system with artificial intelligence will avoid collisions with other vehicles on the road, while cameras and radar will scan the road to avoid pedestrians.

According to Peter Stevens, the service is safe and efficient with fuel savings of up to 20%.

“A computer can respond faster than a human’s reaction time” when needed, he explained.

And the more buses run, the more data they will collect to “autonomously improve travel times,” he said.

The new service is “something new, exciting to see, part of our technological revolution,” enthused AFP bus driver Callum Jones.

In 2021, a driverless electric bus went into service in Málaga, Spain, a first in Europe. Tests were conducted in South Korea the same year and Singapore in early 2023.

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