First Bus has introduced a groundbreaking electric self-driving full-size single-decker bus service known as Mi-Link 003 in Oxfordshire. This service, a significant milestone for autonomous transportation, is operated by First Bus and connects passengers between Didcot Parkway train station and Milton Park.
The initiative builds upon successful trials of a self-driving mini-bus in the Milton Park area, which later expanded to cover a round trip route between the train station and the business park. The introduction of the full-size bus represents a major leap forward in autonomous public transport.
The bus is equipped with advanced technology, including radar, LiDAR, and AI systems, enabling it to navigate, accelerate, and brake safely without human intervention. While there is a safety driver on board, ready to assume control if necessary, their role also extends to providing passengers with personalized service and information.
Operations for the 28-seater electric bus commenced on a regular schedule, running every 30 minutes from 07:00 to 18:30 on weekdays and Saturdays. The trial period is set to conclude on September 30th, allowing First Bus to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of this autonomous transportation solution.
John Birtwistle, Head of Policy at First Bus, hailed the initiative as "revolutionary," emphasizing their commitment to an innovative and environmentally friendly future for public transportation. He expressed excitement about demonstrating the potential of combining zero-emission technology with digital autonomy to offer passengers a smarter, cleaner, and quieter way to travel.
First Bus reported promising results from earlier trials, with 3,000 miles covered and 1.5 tonnes of carbon emissions saved. This new development represents a significant step forward in the adoption of autonomous vehicles in the public transport sector.
Milton Park, a thriving science, technology, and business community in Oxfordshire, hosts more than 270 companies and 9,000 employees, making it an ideal location for pioneering advancements in autonomous transportation.