BUS travel in Scotland could look very different by this summer, as on-road testing of self-driving buses begins from Monday.

Stagecoach is behind the technological “milestone”, marking the UK’s first full-sized autonomous vehicle of its kind to take to the roads.

Sam Greer, regional director of the company in Scotland, hailed it as a “hugely exciting project”.

He added: “This is a major step forward in our journey to fully launch the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus service and will provide easy access to a brand-new bus route in the heart of Scotland.”

The CAVForth pilot will see five single-deck autonomous buses operating over the Forth Road Bridge between Ferrytoll Park and Ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park train and tram interchange. The buses are full of sensors enabling them to run on pre-selected roads without the driver having to intervene or take control.

Stagecoach is partnering with Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland for the project. Funding for the vehicles came from the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

Jim Hutchinson, chief executive of Fusion Processing, said he was “delighted to be leading the world’s most complex and ambitious autonomous vehicle programme”.

He added: “On-road testing is an exciting milestone in the development of autonomous commercial vehicles and we look forward to welcoming passengers on board in a few months’ time.”

Each bus will have a driver monitoring the system and a bus captain who will move around, talking to customers about the service.

Chris Gall, group engineering director of Alexander Dennis, said the testing was a “milestone for our autonomous bus project”.

“As we move towards passenger services later in the year, the project will be a landmark demonstration of future technologies in transport.”