The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Edinburgh to be most ‘driverless’ city in the world

- By Gareth Rose

EDINBURGH is set to become the driverless travel capital of the world, according to Scots scientists.

In a few months, more people will get to work using automated vehicles than in any other city in the world, government advisers say.

Five automated buses, now in developmen­t, are expected to carry around 10,000 passengers a week between Fife and Edinburgh.

The Scottish Science Advisory Council (SSAC) says the country must prepare for a boom in robotics and smart technology, which could provide a much-needed boost to the economy.

It had forecast that Edinburgh would be a world leader in automated vehicles by the end of this year, although the devastatio­n wrought by coronaviru­s is certain to push that back.

However, Scotland still could be a pioneer in driverless travel, eventually including cars and other vehicles. The buses, being delivered by a consortium of Stagecoach, Alexander Dennis, Transport Scotland, Napier University, the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, and Fusion Processing – which has provided the CAVstar technology, the ‘brains’ of the system – is part of a £6.1 million investment. It includes a 12will month service of a fleet of full-size Alexander Dennis 42-seat, Enviro200 singledeck buses, travelling on public roads, carrying farepaying passengers at speeds of up to 50mph.

There will be a member of staff on board, but the buses will be fully automated.

They feature sensors and automatic intelligen­ce, and have to meet safety checks and other targets before the vehicles are rolled out even further.

According to the SSAC, this is only the beginning for an industry which is already worth £2.6 billion a year to the Scottish economy.

The council’s report, Robotics and Autonomous Systems: Shaping the Future of Scotland, states: ‘The impact of the next wave of robotics and autonomous systems is already emerging.

‘NHS Forth Valley has dedicated robot corridors for transporti­ng supplies, and by late 2020 more Edinburgh commuters will be transporte­d by autonomous vehicles than [in] any other global city. To ensure that such rapidly developing technologi­es will deliver both economical and societal benefits, a clear vision of the future is now required.’

Buses could just be the start of the driverless journey, with plans to apply similar technology to cars.

The Society of Motor Manufactur­ers and Traders has estimated that it could lead to an additional 320,000 jobs across the UK.

The Scottish Government wants to be a trailblaze­r in the developmen­t of what it calls Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV).

A spokesman said: ‘The deployment of connected and automated vehicles has the potential to bring transforma­tive change to peoples’ lives, not just in how we travel, but in how we work, where we live, the environmen­t, and safety.

‘We recently launched the CAV roadmap, one of the key commitment­s from our Programme for Government, which sets out how Scotland can play a key role in this fast-moving industry, as well as steps we need to take to unlock these opportunit­ies.

‘We intend Scotland to be at the forefront of these technologi­es. The CAV Forth bus project is a fantastic example of this commitment.’

‘We intend Scotland to be at forefront’

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