TESTING of the UK'S first ever driverless bus began this week.

Stagecoach held the first public demonstration of its 11.5m ADL Enviro200 on Monday, with the aim of completing a journey while carrying passengers in 2020.

The bus uses a system called CAVstar, which has multiple sensor types including radar, LIDAR - which measures distance - optical cameras and ultrasound.

These systems work with satellite navigation to detect and avoid objects and plan an optimum path for the vehicle.

The bus firm completed the demonstration at its depot in Sharston, Manchester, alongside bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) and technology company Fusion Processing - the companies who helped to design the bus.

As part of the testing, the designer showed that the vehicle could travel around the depot autonomously, performing tasks such as parking and moving through a bus wash.

During the testing, regulations require there to be a driver in the vehicle as a safety precaution.

Fusion CEO Jim Hutchinson, said the test represented a "glimpse of how future bus depots can be automated".

Stagecoach CEO, Martin Griffiths, added: “This is an exciting project to trial autonomous technology on a full-sized bus for the first time in the UK.

"Our employees are the beating heart of our business and I believe that will remain the case, but the world is changing fast, particularly where new technology is involved, and it’s our job to lead the way in looking at ways to continually progress and improve our operations for the good of the many people who use our bus services every day.”

The software being used in the pilot vehicle also forms the basis for a significant autonomous vehicle trial due to get underway in 2020 when a fleet of five driverless buses similar to this one will operate – carrying passengers – between Fife and Edinburgh, across the Forth Road Bridge Corridor.

This technology could also be used to help improve the safety of road users in manually driven vehicles. For example, the sensor system on the vehicle can be used to provide assistance to the driver by warning of cyclists or pedestrians.