Europe’s first full-sized self-driving bus is to be demonstrated in Scotland for the first time next week ahead of a trial over the Forth Road Bridge next year.
People attending a transport trade show in Glasgow will be offered rides round the SEC car park in a prototype Stagecoach single-decker.
The vehicle has been tested in a Manchester bus depot in preparation for the passenger-carrying trial over a 14-mile route between the Ferrytoll park and ride site at the Fife end of the public-transport-only bridge and the Edinburgh Park train/tram interchange.
No date has been announced for the experiment, but it will involve a fleet of buses similar to the prototype, with a driver on board as a safety measure.
Organisers of the CAV (Connected and Autonomous Vehicles) Scotland event on 13-14 November said it was the “ideal platform” to help the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency plan the development of such technology.
Event director Adrian Tatum said: “Having the prototype automated bus system at the event will give a real insight into what it will look like.”
A spokeswoman for Stagecoach said: “Fusion, the partner leading on the technology side, will be doing demos of the bus in the SEC car park which people attending the conference can book onto.”
The “Project CAV Forth” vehicles will feature more sensors and software than the prototype to enable them to react to fast traffic.
Transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “I’m particularly interested in seeing the demo of the prototype automated bus system, which is a precursor to the vehicle that will be used in Project CAV Forth.
“It’s the type of innovation that shows Scotland is very much open for business when it comes to trialling these vehicles. Our trunk road network can provide a wide range of environments as a diverse testing ground.”
Matheson has also called for testing to be undertaken of autonomous vehicles on single-track roads in remote areas.
Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths said: “Our industry, customers and employees can benefit hugely from autonomous technology as it can make services safer, more efficient and help to deliver better journeys.”