Perth-based Stagecoach is to become the first transport company in the UK to trial self-driving buses.
The travel operator confirmed on Monday it would be the first to produce a single deck, full-sized autonomous bus.
It is now in partnership with bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) and technology company Fusion Processing to begin production.
Work is being carried out at the ADL site in Guildford in the south of England and is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
When completed, the vehicle will be able to operate without a driver, away from high speed roads.
However, due to legal restrictions, the bus will only be able to be used in its autonomous mode within depots at present.
Vehicles cannot be used in this mode when passengers are on board.
Despite this, parts of its system will be in use to help improve safety on the roads.
In-built sensors can assist drivers by warning of cyclists or pedestrians that may be in the blind spot or arrive unexpectedly.
The companies involved also hope in the near future the law will be changed to allow fully autonomous buses to be used on serviced routes.
Stagecoach UK bus engineering director, Sam Greer, said: “Stagecoach has long been at the heart of innovation within the bus industry and this is an exciting trial that will deliver the UK’s first fully autonomous single deck bus.”
“We look forward to working with our partners on this project which we believe could, in time, help improve safety and efficiency within our depots and over the longer term, help transform bus travel in the future.”
Fusion Processing will deliver the on-board system CAVstar.
The system will use multiple sensors including radars, lasers, cameras, ultrasound and satellite navigation and was successfully trailed earlier this year.
Jim Hutchinson, CEO of Fusion Processing Ltd, said: “We’re delighted Stagecoach and Alexander Dennis have selected our CAVstar product, he sensor and control system that enables autonomous vehicles.
“CAVstar will offer increased safety and efficiency and will be demonstrated in the Stagecoach trials later this year. “
Ken Scott, group engineering director at ADL, said: “ADL is renowned for harnessing the latest technology solutions to enhance our products and services to benefit our customers, their passengers and the wider environment.
“We’re excited to be working with Stagecoach and Fusion Processing on this innovative project.
“In the first instance it will deliver real and demonstrable improvement to efficiency and safety in depots, while taking another significant step on our journey to bringing fully autonomous vehicles to market.”