Journey on Autonomous Bus from Fife to Edinburgh - a new dawn
On Thursday 19 January 2023 the co-design panel of the CAV Forth autonomous bus project was invited to experience the journey on the proposed route from Ferrytoll Park and Ride in Fife to Edinburgh Park.
It was a crisp winter morning and my first view of the autonomous bus we were going to take the journey on was of the Sun rising over the rail bridge in the background. It did seem like a new dawn.
As a company interested in providing services in the long term based on autonomous vehicles, we have been involved in the co-design panel since the start in October 2019. Although the project has been delayed mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the proposed AB1 service has been much awaited. I must admit that despite years of anticipation and excitement about the project, I felt a fleeting moment of anxiety just before the journey. However, that was short-lived and the excitement of the journey ahead returned as we spoke with other stakeholders.
The bus journey started and time passed by pretty quickly before one realised the bus was on the Forth Bridge ad then on to Edinburgh Park. In the excitement, the journey of about 30 minutes passed in a flash. It was only when the autonomous bus reached Edinburgh Park that I realised as significant as it was the journey was uneventful - exactly what one would want an autonomous bus journey.
The original conditions of the grant funding for the project meant that the bus was a diesel bus and not an electric bus. Hopefully, once the trials are over and the lessons are learnt from the commercial operation of the AB1 service electric buses will be used.
We have some ways to go before we have a level 5 autonomous service but this is a good technology demonstrator and a lot can be learnt from the pilot services that should commence soon in terms of practicality and also human interaction with autonomous vehicles and autonomous public transport services from within and with other road users.
Some images from the day.