Driverless buses for Aberdeen in '˜next five years'

ABERDEEN could be the first place in Scotland to roll out driverless buses under ambitious plans to revamp the city, it has emerged,

The buses could be on the road within the next five years as part of major plans to transform the city centre for the digital age.

Simon Haston, new head of IT and Transformation at Aberdeen City Council, has briefed senior members of the council on the latest urban upgrades he wants for the Granite City.

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Driverless buses are typically small electric vehicles which are guided by sensors and software along conventional roads at low speeds.

Mr Haston is set to visit Helsinki in Finland where a similar test scheme is leading the way in a new generation of public transport.

It is hoped the buses could be in place in Aberdeen, which is blighted by heavy congestion, within the next five years given how the technology is developing.

Mr Haston said: “This technology is not far off. Other cities are doing this and there is no reason why Aberdeen could not be the first city in Scotland to have this type of transport.

“Aberdeen is one of the most digital literate areas of the country. It is a very innovative place so a great place to try out these new technologies.”

Mr Haston has also proposed roads with inbuilt pot hole warnings created by a network of fibre optic cables.

Park benches fitted with wi-fi and charging points along with “intelligent” lampposts - which only light up when they detect movement - are also being considered.

Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing said she wants Aberdeen to be “one of the smartest cities in the UK.”

She said: “Smarter Aberdeen is part of our vision for the city, we have a massive regeneration programme above ground and it is equally important we look to deliver our digital strategy at the same pace.

“This will ensure Aberdeen is of the smartest cities in the UK, if not Europe, and transform the lives of the people who live and work in the city.”

It is expected the Smarter Aberdeen project will receive 90 per cent of its funding from the EU, the Scottish Government and the private sector.

The city council has already attracted £30 million from the EU for its hydrogen buses.