Autonomous Vehicles Grants: World first self-driving bus in Edinburgh

The world’s first full-sized self-driving bus will soon be in operation in Edinburgh as part of a programme of government backing for autonomous transport initiatives. 

A total £10.4m grant was given to the CAVForth II – Fusion Processing initiative to create the world first EV service as part of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles’ ‘Connected and Automated Mobility’ programme which is being matched in funding by industry partners to a total of £81m.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: ‘Self-driving vehicles including buses will positively transform people’s everyday lives – making it easier to get around, access vital services and improve regional connectivity.’ 

With collaboration from the University of the West of England and Edinburgh Napier University, the project will run along a 14 mile route and build upon an ongoing pilot scheme by testing and refining the commercial service model. 

Work on the initiative is also being undertaken by bus makers Alexander Dennis and operator Stagecoach. Carla Stockton-Jones, UK Managing Director of Stagecoach, said: ‘We’re very proud to be pioneers of this technology with our plans to roll out the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus service in Scotland in the spring. 

‘The government funding announced today means that we can build further on this achievement by advancing the technology as we extend our Scottish bus trial to cover a longer route.’ 

Alongside the self-driving bus, a total of seven projects have been funded by the programme which the government says will ‘help British companies seize early opportunities’ in the growing market with almost £600,000 also going into feasibility studies on using the tech to improve public transport across the UK. 

Studies will be done into potential exclusive automated vehicle routes in Hertfordshire and Essex, eastern Cambridge, Birmingham and Solihull, and Milton Keynes. 

Other projects to receive funding include the development of a new zero emissions, self-driving HGV with Asda and remotely piloted HGVs between the Vantec and Nissan sites in Sunderland. 

Backing was also given to Northern Ireland’s first self-driving shuttle which will operate in Belfast Harbour to bring transport to residents, visitors and employees.

Photo by Alexander Dennis


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