UK to launch self-driving bus route in Edinburgh

Public transport

UK to launch self-driving bus route in Edinburgh

The new 22km route in Scotland’s capital will be in service from next week. A driver will be there anyway to regain control of the bus in an emergency.


Stuart Doidge and other drivers remain in the vehicles to regain control in the event of an emergency.


An autonomous bus service will start in Edinburgh next week, a first in the UK, although drivers will remain in the vehicles to take back control in the event of an emergency. “The bus’s self-driving technology has been tested in the past, but this is the first time it has been used on a bus route,” Stagecoach public affairs director Peter Stevens said during a demonstration near the Scottish capital on Thursday.

The new line, about 22 kilometers west of Edinburgh, is planned to carry around 10,000 passengers a week. The five buses in service, which can travel at speeds of up to 50 km/h, will have a driver to check that the technology, mandated by British law, is working properly. Fully autonomous vehicles on public roads.

Another agent will be on board to check tickets and answer users’ queries. An embedded system with artificial intelligence will avoid collisions with other vehicles on the road, while cameras and radar will scan the road to avoid pedestrians.

Fuel saved

According to Peter Stevens, the service is safer and more efficient, with fuel savings of up to 20 percent. “A computer can respond faster than a human’s reaction time” when needed, he explained. And the more buses are driven, the more data they will collect to “autonomously improve travel times”.

Bus driver Callum Jones is delighted that the service is “something new, exciting to see, part of our technological revolution”.

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

(AFP)Show comments

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