Volvo Buses and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have demonstrated a 12-m (39-ft) autonomous electric bus. The Volvo bus will soon begin trials on the NTU campus.
The 85-passenger Volvo 7900 electric bus is equipped with sensors and navigation controls that are managed by an artificial intelligence (AI) system. The AI system is protected with cybersecurity measures to prevent unwanted intrusions.
The Volvo bus has undergone preliminary rounds of testing at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous vehicles (CETRAN). Plans are in place to test the bus on NTU campus and to extend the route beyond the university.
The fully autonomous electric bus provides a quiet operation with zero emissions. It requires 80% less energy than an equivalent sized diesel bus. This is Volvo's first autonomous fully electric bus in public transportation.
Håkan Agnevall, President of Volvo Buses, said, "Our electric bus featuring autonomous technology represents an important step toward our vision for a cleaner, safer, and smarter city. The journey toward full autonomy is undoubtedly complex, and our partnership with the NTU and LTA is critical in realizing this vision, as is our commitment to applying a safety-first approach."
The bus comes with a Volvo autonomous research software that is 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 LiDAR sensors, 360-degree cameras, and an advanced global navigation satellite system that uses real-time kinematics. This is like any global positioning system (GPS) but uses multiple data sources to give pin-point location accuracy up to one centimeter.
The system is hooked-up to an inertial management unit, measuring the bus's lateral and angular rate. This is designed to improve the bus's navigation when going over uneven terrain.