Without question, 2020 has been a year we will remember. The Covid19 pandemic has impacted immeasurably on global trade and brought many sectors to a virtual standstill, although simultaneously creating opportunities in some sectors, including freight, online retail and the courier industries amongst others. Significantly, it has resulted in many of us taking time to reconsider how we live, work and play. Commuting to work is down across both public and private transport – a challenge for many of our transport industry partners. Cycling usage is increasing and we are flying less – a boon for the environment, in a year when climate change has continued to occupy our minds and news content, but with the inevitable knock on effect to the aerospace industry. This last year has presented, and continues to present, challenges and provoke thought in our approach to many aspects of our lives.
As a company with a versatile workforce, the Fusion team has adapted well to new patterns of working with increased working from home, meetings held by teleconference, and online client demonstrations from our site. The extent of the changes would have been hard to imagine a year ago. The flexibility and resilience of the team has ensured we have stayed on track with all the projects, despite the challenges encountered.
We see a great future for our CAVstar Automated Drive System to be applied in passenger service and freight sectors. On the passenger service vehicle side, CAVForth, the groundbreaking autonomous bus pilot will see a fleet of five full-sized, SAE Level 4, autonomous single decker buses operating a scheduled service between Edinburgh and Fife. The buses will operate along a 30-mile route, carrying up to 10,000 passengers per week, with first test runs in 2021. Fusion not only provides the technology, we lead the consortium of partners including: Stagecoach, Alexander Dennis, Transport Scotland, Napier University and Bristol Robotics Laboratory.
To assist in our offering to the freight sector, Fusion have invested in a mid-sized load-carrying vehicle to that will enable us to test and demonstrate further use cases for our CAVstar Automated Drive System. In common with our other vehicle installations, the system will feature dual-redundancy on critical systems – this means that in the highly unlikely event of a critical system failure e.g. brakes or steering, a secondary system can take over without the need for driver intervention.
Continuing the fast pace of development at Fusion, we are expanding the team. Having already filled key engineering positions this year, further recruitment is underway for Systems and Software Engineers, FPGA engineers, and an Engineering Operations Coordinator (see our careers page). Fusion’s in-house skillset will continue to strengthen through these appointments, ensuring we remain dynamic and able to tackle new projects as diverse as our CycleEye CMS mirror replacement system, and a fully autonomous all terrain robot. The company is well placed to continue the positive trajectory throughout 2020/21, and ride out any turbulence, facing new challenges and making the most of the new opportunities.