Five self-driving buses are to take to the roads as part of a new pilot scheme by the Government. The buses will operate in Scotland from spring.
The single-decker buses will transport passengers between Ferrytoll park and ride in Fife and Edinburgh Park train and tram station via the Forth Road Bridge. Bus operator Stagecoach said it will later be extended to Dunfermline city centre.
The services will be "captained" meaning they will have a single member of staff on board to help passengers with boarding, buying tickets and queries. The project is one of seven autonomous passenger and freight programmes to win a share of an £81million government fund.
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. We’re supporting and investing in the safe rollout of this incredible technology to help maximise its full potential while also creating skilled jobs and boosting growth in this important sector.”
Hub2Hub is another get a share of the funding. It is developing self-driving hydrogen-powered lorries in partnership with Asda. The vehicles will be tested next year.
Other projects to receive funding are located in Belfast, Cambridge, Solihull, and Coventry, while there are two in Sunderland. All the schemes will be expected to demonstrate they are capable of sustainable commercial services by 2025.
Business Secretary Grant Shapps said: “In just a few years’ time, the business of self-driving vehicles could add tens of billions to our economy and create tens of thousands of jobs across the UK. This is a massive opportunity to drive forward our priority to grow the economy, which we are determined to seize.
“The support we are providing today will help our transport and technology pioneers steal a march on the global competition by turning their bright ideas into market-ready products sooner than anyone else.”