Fusion Processing develops autonomous HGV and buses in UK

By Becky Schultz02 February 2023

The Hub2Hub consortium project will create a self-driving heavy goods tractor unit equipped with Fusion Processing’s CAVStar automated driving system. (Photo: Fusion Processing)

Automated drive systems developer Fusion Processing ltd. has been awarded two separate projects, the first to aid in development of an autonomous hydrogen heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and a second to further develop an autonomous bus solution.

According to the Bristol, UK-based company, the Hub2Hub consortium project has been awarded £6.6 million to develop and deliver an autonomous zero-emission HGV for the UK market – one of seven recipients for its joint industry and government funding. The consortium will create a self-driving heavy goods tractor unit that will begin road trials in 2024 with ASDA, a major UK retailer, serving as strategic partners and overlooking vehicle development.

The consortium includes Fusion Processing Ltd. and ASDA, and is led by Hydrogen Vehicle Systems (HVS), a UK-based hydrogen-powered commercial vehicle developer. It will build two prototype vehicles, the first of which will be a hydrogen-electric vehicle fitted with a driver’s cab and tested on the road in autonomous operation. It will utilize Fusion Processing’s automated driving system, CAVStar, with a human safety driver at the wheel.

The second prototype will have the driver’s cab removed and replaced by an aerodynamic faring. It will be evaluated on test tracks using the CAVStar system with a remote human driver located in a control hub, who will operate the vehicle.

The two prototypes point to an optimized future logistics system where vehicles could be operated in autonomous mode on a hub-to-hub route, Fusion Processing said, with a remote driver then taking control to drive the vehicle from the hub to its end destination.

“Our market analysis indicates that the commercial vehicle segments such as haulage are where we will see autonomous vehicle technology first used in large scale deployments,” said Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing CEO. “Hub2Hub is a perfect showcase of what the advanced version of our CAVStar Automated Drive System can achieve – combining SAE Level 4 autonomous driving with tele-operation to deliver safer and more efficient vehicle operations.”

The deployment trial of the autonomous HGV is planned for September 2024.

The CAVStar system is also being used as part of the second phase of the CAVForth autonomous bus project in Scotland.
Autonomous bus project in Scotland

Fusion Processing also announced it will continue to develop its CAVStar system as part of the second phase of the CAVForth autonomous bus project in Scotland. The £10.4 million second phase, known as CAVForth 2, will see the current route between Edinburgh and Fife extended into Dunfermline city center, with driving conditions and traffic flows found in urban areas enabling further testing and development of the buses’ Level 4 autonomous driving capability along the 19-mile route.

Consortium lead Fusion Processing’s CAVStar technology will be fitted to a fully electric Enviro100AEV bus from UK bus builder Alexander Dennis, then join an existing test fleet of five Enviro200AV diesel buses. The buses will use data from a suite of sensors, including cameras, LiDAR and radar, together with artificial intelligence processing to deliver optimum efficiency while driving in various traffic and weather conditions. Traffic light phasing data will also enable the buses to smoothly travel non-stop from one green light to the next.

“CAVForth2 builds on our extensive experience in developing a fleet of five full-size SAE Level 4 autonomous buses, engineered to operate safely on public roads and extends the route by a further five miles into a more complex urban environment,” Hutchinson noted. He added the company is confident the next-generation CAVStar system would prove up to the task.

CAVForth 2 is funded by the UK government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and project partners Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis, Stagecoach Bus, Transport Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University and Bristol Robotics Laboratory, UWE.

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