As an exciting 2020 kicks off it’s time to take stock of 2019 and draw breath before we jump headfirst into a new year of more ground-breaking work. We have a number of high-profile projects we can talk about and, as usual, several we have to keep under our hats! From leading on Europe’s most advanced and most ambitious CAV project that will see up to 10k passengers riding autonomous bus each week to supporting an HGV platooning R&D programme that’s taking place on the UK highways and releasing a transformative update to our CycleEye® product. Read on for more details…
So what did we work on in 2019?
The trial of Europe’s first full sized, fully operational autonomous coach was completed in March. Working in collaboration with Stagecoach Group and Alexander Dennis, our CAVForth® sensor and control system which was retrofitted to a regular ADL Enviro200 bus.
After development runs at Millbrook to fine-tune the sensors and control systems, the bus was put through its paces at Stagecoach’s busy Sharston depot. There, the 11.5m 43 seater coach drove routes around the premises and negotiated the bus wash and fuel depot with millimetre accuracy.
Why is this important? It offers improved safety and efficiencies to bus companies and is proof of concept before we take the autonomous buses to the public roads in project CAVForth….
On the back of the successful trials our bid for £4.35m of Innovate UK funding was awarded to develop the system further; for use on the public highway and CAVForth was born. A consortium led by Fusion Processing with Stagecoach Group Plc, Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), Transport Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, Bristol Robotics Lab and the University of West of England.
CAVForth will ultimately see five specially built full sized ADL Enviro200 buses operating a 14 mile route from Fife to Edinburgh and back at AV Level 4 (with a safety driver on board) and carrying up to 10 thousand passengers per week, making this Europe’s biggest public autonomous vehicle pilot when the service begins later in 2020.
September 2019 saw the trade show debut of the autonomous bus at the Coach & Bus Show held at the NEC. Over the two days we operated a demo on the hour every hour, carrying members of the industry on an loop around the car park, with the bus operating in full AV Level 4 autonomous mode.
In October 2019 CAV Scotland played host to the first public demo of the autonomous coach. Politicians, members of the press and the public had the opportunity to experience the CAVstar powered bus as it manoeuvred around a tight and complex route in AV Level 4, a task it completed flawlessly every time.
Fusion Processing Ltd focuses on control systems and advanced sensors for the transport sector and smart cities, and to that end we developed a product called CycleEye®, an ADAS (advanced driver-assistance system) for trucks and buses that alerts drivers to the presence of cyclists alongside their vehicles. It is designed to improve the safety of cyclists, especially in cities and on other congested roads. With over one million miles under its belt, the product is undoubtedly already saving lives and reducing driver’s cognitive overload.
100% First West of England Metrobus fleet have been fitted with our CycleEye units. It’s great to see so many in use in our home city of Bristol.
2020 will see the roll out of the CycleEye CMS®( Camera Monitoring System), an exciting evolution of our product that utilises high resolution screens on the A pillars, replacing bus or HGV wing mirrors (which not only cause drag and reduce vehicle efficiency, they can be a hazard to vulnerable road users like cyclists). The CycleEye’s wide-angle rear-view cameras will feed live video to the screens eliminating blind spots and giving a visual and audible alert to any cyclists who come alongside the vehicle. We’re looking forward to seeing the first Transport for London buses equipped with our system hitting the streets in the coming months.
Fusion is also involved in the HelmUK Advanced Platooning Trial, a research project lead by TRL involving the first real-world operational trial of platooning vehicles on UK roads. Our technology is being used as part of the trial in which cutting-edge technology will enable three DAF Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) to travel safely in close proximity, at speed, with the lead driver controlling the speed, acceleration and breaking of the whole ‘platoon’. Use of platooning has the potential to greatly increase fuel efficiency, reduce carbon emissions for trucks and improve safety. We look forward to seeing the results and reports when the project culminates later in 2020.
And finally, in response to requests from industry we’re developing CAVstar Lite® – a fully autonomous sensing and control system for scenarios that require a lightweight low power solution. We’ll share more on this innovative product as we complete the R&D phase.
To handle the growing workload, we’re continuing our recruitment drive. We are presently seeking Radar Engineers, Image Process Engineers, Control Systems Engineers, AI scientists, Test Engineers, Software Engineers and others. If you’d like to be part of a dynamic and hands on team, working with genuinely cutting-edge technology, we’d love to hear from you. Please send CVs and a covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.