UK tech company develops fully autonomous crew van

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Fusion Processing, today, released the first images of their AV Level 4 Fiat Ducato crew van in testing. The vehicle has been equipped with Fusion’s CAVstar ADS, the AI control and sensor system that is utilised in a fleet of five autonomous buses for Project CAVForth.

Fusion’s CAVstar Automated Drive System is designed for autonomous driving Levels 4 and 5, where AV Level 4 means that the vehicle is capable of entirely autonomous operation within its Operational Design Domain (ODD), and does not require a driver for safe operation. To operate safely at AV Level 4 the system employs redundant steering and braking systems that are called into action in the highly unlikely event that the primary systems fail. Fusion’s engineers ensure that all their vehicles meet the relevant international safety standards.

Project CAVForth is run by a consortium of leading mobility companies, and headed up by Fusion Processing. The Consortium includes Stagecoach, the UK’s largest bus operator; Alexander Dennis, the UK’s largest bus manufacturer, and Transport Scotland. The consortium members have been working together since the start of 2019 to create what is widely regarded as the world’s most advanced passenger service using autonomous buses.

Fusion Processing are upgrading five Alexander Dennis E200 single-decker buses, each with 43-seat capacity to autonomous level 4 capability. Stagecoach will operate the service over a 28-mile round-trip from a Park & Ride on the north side of the Forth Bridge, across the Bridge, and all the way to a train and tram interchange on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

The buses are already undergoing on track trials. Fusion provides a complete system, with all the hardware and Artificial Intelligence software required for AV Level 4 autonomous driving, along with expertise in meeting the relevant safety standards.

Marketing Director Jim Fleming commented,
“It’s been amazing to see how quickly the engineering team have taken a stock Fiat Ducato and upgraded it to a fully autonomous vehicle. We needed a vehicle on which to install the automated driving system developed for CAVForth, and although we have a full-size bus in our Bristol facility, the Ducato crew van serves as a more convenient test platform to take on the road and measure the system performance. We’ve refined our CAVstar system over a number of projects, but even so, it was heartening that the engineering team were able to convert an entirely new vehicle in just a few months.” He continued, “It’s a working vehicle, and its prime purpose is to support the CAVForth project, but it’s also now very clear that it makes a great showcase to demonstrate how Fusion’s CAVstar Automated Driving System may be used to convert a regular vehicle to Level 4 autonomy.”

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