Smart Transport

Self-driving van built to test autonomous bus technology

Fusion Processing has built a Fiat Ducato van with Level 4 autonomous driving capability to test the technology for use on buses.

The vehicle will be used for on-road development work as part of the CAVForth autonomous bus project.

Jim Fleming, marketing director at Fusion, said: “We needed a vehicle on which to install the automated driving system developed for CAVForth, and although we have a full-size bus in our Bristol facility, the Ducato crew van serves as a more convenient test platform to take on the road and measure the system performance.”

Project CAVForth is run by a consortium of mobility companies, headed by Fusion Processing, including Stagecoach, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland.

Members have been working together since the start of 2019 to create the “world’s most advanced” passenger service using autonomous buses.

Fusion’s CAVstar Automated Drive System is designed for autonomous driving Levels 4 and 5, where AV Level 4 means that the vehicle is capable of entirely autonomous operation within its Operational Design Domain (ODD) and does not require a driver for safe operation.

To operate safely at AV Level 4 the system employs redundant steering and braking systems that are called into action if the primary systems fail. Fusion’s engineers ensure that all their vehicles meet the relevant international safety standards.

Five Alexander Dennis E200 single-decker buses, each with 43-seat capacity, have been fitted with the autonomous driving technology and are undergoing track trials.

Following the development work using the Ducato van, Stagecoach will operate the autonomous service over a 28-mile round-trip from a Park & Ride on the north side of the Forth Bridge, across the Bridge, and all the way to a train and tram interchange on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

The buses are expected to carry up to 10,000 passengers per week.

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