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The world’s first self-driving bus fleet will soon hit the streets of Scotland

The next time you get on a bus in Scotland and it drives itself, don’t panic: this is all part of a government plan to make self-driving technology mainstream.

Five fully autonomous buses will hit the streets near Edinburgh next month, announced Stagecoach, the UK’s largest bus and coach operator, will manage the fleet.

The British government said the project, called CAV forward, would be the world’s first full-size, self-driving public bus service. CAV stands for ‘connected and autonomous vehicles’.

The service, which aims to carry 10,000 passengers a week, will initially run a 14-mile (22.5 km) circuit route, including a stretch across the iconic Forth Road Bridge – one of Scotland’s most important landmarks.

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The vehicles have sensors that allow them to travel on pre-selected roads at speeds of up to 80 km/h. The buses operate at AV level 4, which means they have a trained safety driver on board, but the driver is not expected to touch the controls while the vehicle is in autonomous mode.

Fully self-driving cars are not legal in the UK. A safety driver is mandatory at all times in all autonomous vehicles, although the government is working on an updated legal and assurance framework.