Software glitches hit Inverness driverless bus trial
A self-driving bus in a Scottish trial of autonomous vehicle passenger services had to be driven manually at its launch due to software issues.
The driverless bus – nicknamed Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Driverless Machiney – is being tested on a two-mile (3km) route in Inverness.
Organisers said the vehicle had been operating fine in the weeks up to Thursday’s official launch.
They said identifying such problems was all part of the trial.
Two of the three software glitches on Thursday were resolved with a third requiring further work.
The project has been described as the first of its kind in Scotland and is being promoted by regional transport organisation Hitrans.
Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Driverless Machiney can carry up to 15 passengers and is being operated between Inverness Campus and Inverness Retail and Business Park.
The vehicle has guidance and detection systems, cameras and “deep learning” programs to help it navigate the route, which includes crossing a railway bridge.
The route is restricted to public transport, walking and cycling only, with those walking and cycling segregated from road vehicles across most of the way.
For safety, the bus has a human driver to take control if needed.
A similar project is running in Hannover, Germany, where an autonomous bus shuttle is being trialled between a tram stop and a new university campus
Hitrans secured European funding for the Inverness initiative and is working with bus giant Stagecoach, autonomous vehicle company NAVYA, Highland Council and Inverness Campus.
The trial is running until March.
Transport Jenny Gilruth said: “We want Scotland to be at the forefront of the connected mobility and autonomous vehicle industry and this pilot project is another exciting development.
“This type of innovation shows Scotland is very much open for business when it comes to trialling this technology. I wish Inverness Campus, Hitrans and project partners every success with this pilot.”