Volvo Buses and the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have launched the world’s first full size, autonomous electric bus. The single-deck Volvo Electric bus has a full capacity close to 80 passengers and it is 12 metres long. It also requires 80 per cent less energy than an equivalent sized diesel bus. The electric bus has 36 seats and provides a quiet operation with zero emissions.
The development of the volvo electric bus was a key milestone in NTU and Volvo’s development programme under the university’s partnership with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) which was set to develop and conduct autonomous vehicle bus trials for fixed route and scheduled services and was announced in October 2016.
The Volvo 7900 Electric bus comes with a Volvo Autonomous Research Platform software that is connected to key controls such numerous sensors and navigation controls managed by a comprehensive artificial intelligence (AI) system.
The system is also hooked up to an “inertial management unit”, which acts like a two-in-one gyroscope and accelerator, measuring the lateral and angular rate of the bus. According to NTU and Volvo, this will improve its navigation when going over uneven terrain and around sharp bends. These sensors and GPS platforms will be managed by a AI system that was developed by NTU researchers. The bus cannot only operates the various sensors and GPS systems on the bus, but also enables it to navigate autonomously through dense traffic and tropical weather conditions.
The AI system is also protected with industry-leading cyber security measures to prevent unwanted cyber intrusions, Ensuring maximum safety and reliability. The Volvo bus is the first of two that has undergone preliminary rounds of extremely thorough and careful testing at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous vehicles at NTU (CETRAN).
NTU President Professor Subra Suresh, said, “This fully autonomous electric bus will play a role in shaping the future of public transportation that is safe, efficient, reliable and comfortable for all commuters. It will soon be tested on the NTU Smart Campus, which has been home to a number of innovations as a living testbed for technologies that impact the human condition and the quality of life.
ABB which is another partner, a pioneering technology leader in digital industries and world leader in fast-charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, will develop a smart fast-charging solution. Based on the OppCharge concept, ABB’s HVC 300P fast charge system is ideally suited for autonomous charging in bus depots as well as in running traffic.
Tarak Mehta, President of Electrification Products division, said: “ABB is committed to pioneering technological innovations for a sustainable future. We are extremely excited to collaborate on such a landmark project which marks a positive step toward the electrification of public transport across the region and beyond.”
ABB’s HVC 300P fast charge system will offer a charge power of 300kW via a pantograph that will be mounted on the infrastructure, the fast chargers can be able to recharge a battery in just three to six minutes. This will enable charging during the layover times at the end of the bus route, without affecting the normal operations of the bus.