Full-size autonomous buses now being tested in Scotland

There was a point in time when we thought self-driving cars would only appear in sci-fi movies. But now, even buses can drive themselves.

In fact, in the United Kingdom, the first full-sized autonomous bus called project CAVForth is set to undergo on-road testing. The pilot service has successfully finished depot-based trials, track testing, and virtual simulation.

Driverless buses are now plying UK roads image

With funding from the UK government's Center for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), these single-deck autonomous buses are now able to run on pre-selected roads without a safety driver to intervene or take control. That puts these buses at SAE level 4 autonomy.

The next test is a two-week run on a 22-kilometer route for further evaluation. Of course, for its testing period, no passengers will be allowed to board the bus for safety reasons. However, if everything goes smoothly, then the passenger service is scheduled to go live in late summer.

Driverless buses are now plying UK roads image

A single bus will be able to carry up to 36 passengers. Combined with the other four autonomous fleets, the passenger service has the capacity to ferry over 10,000 passengers a week.

Over 20 specially-trained “autonomous bus professionals” will be recruited in the future to monitor the autonomous system, and alongside them is a bus “captain” that will move around to talk to passengers and answer their queries about the service.

As it stands, fully autonomous vehicles without any form of human intervention are still years away from going mainstream. Technology is still not quite up there in terms of reliability, and of course, safety. But either way, once the day comes, would you ride on a self-driving bus on the way to work? Let us know in the comments.