Volvo Group and Singapore-based Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have demonstrated the world’s first 12-metre autonomous electric bus. The company said the driverless bus will soon begin trials on the NTU campus and subsequently extend the route beyond the university. The 85 passenger Volvo 7900 electric bus is equipped with sensors and navigation controls that are managed by a comprehensive artificial intelligence (AI) system. The AI system is also protected with cyber security measures to prevent unwanted intrusions aimed at ensuring maximum safety and reliability.
The Volvo bus has undergone rigorous testing at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous Vehicles (CETRAN) in Jurong. The fully autonomous electric bus requires 80 per cent less energy than an equivalent sized diesel bus.
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The bus comes with a Volvo autonomous research software connected to key controls and multiple sensors. NTU researchers have enhanced it with an AI system that communicates with sensors, enabling the bus to operate autonomously. This includes light detection and ranging sensors (LIDARS), 360-degree cameras and an advanced global navigation satellite system that uses real-time kinematics, the company noted. This is like any global positioning system (GPS), but uses multiple data sources to provide pin-point location accuracy up to one centimetre.
The system is hooked-up to an “inertial management unit”, measuring the bus’s lateral and angular rate. This will improve the bus’s navigation over an uneven terrain, ensuring a smooth ride, Volvo Group noted. It may be noted that this is Volvo’s first autonomous fully electric bus in public transportation.
Håkan Agnevall, President Volvo Buses, said the electric bus featuring autonomous technology represents an important step towards its vision for a cleaner, safer and smarter city. The journey towards full autonomy is undoubtedly complex, and its partnership with the NTU and LTA is critical in realising this vision, as is its commitment to applying a safety first approach, he added.