Oxford Self-driving bus to trial at business park

The UK’s first zero-emission self-driving bus service has started a trial on public roads.

The First Bus will serve Milton Park business, science and technology park in Oxfordshire.

Richard Holden MP, Under Secretary of State with responsibility for roads and local transport, said the project will not compromise safety.

The trial, which began on Monday, will start taking passengers in February.

The 16-seat accessible single-deck bus is fully electric and designed to react faster and see further in bad weather than a human driver.

The buses have a safety driver who is able to take over at any point and take full manual control if needed.

The £4.3m project received a £3m grant from the government alongside commercial and private sector funding.

Mr Holden said: “We’re not going to, at any point, compromise safety and that is why we’re going to take this really sensible step-by-step approach.”

Janette Bell, managing director at First Bus, added that the bus is the “convergence of both zero-emission technology and autonomous bus”.

She said: “I think it’s really important that we see how those two technologies can work together.”

Jim Hutchinson, CEO at Fusion Processing which is the company behind the technology, said the service is “very safe”.

“We’ve got a lot of in house expertise on safety, but also we have external experts who are not linked to the project in any way who review the full safety case”, he added.

The project will last for three months and the service could be extended to Didcot Parkway train station later in 2023.

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