Volvo Buses and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have signed a cooperation agreement on a research and development program for autonomous electric buses, the company announced.
The program is part of the Land Transport Authority of Singapore’s drive to create more sustainable solutions for public transport. Singapore announced that self-driving buses will be deployed in several areas of the country by 2022.
Volvo said it will be its first autonomous application in public transportation after already demonstrating the technology in mining, quarry and refuse collection operations.
“We are seeing fast-growing interest in both autonomous and electric vehicles in cities all over the world,” said Hakan Agnevall, president, Volvo Buses. “Together with NTU, one of the world’s leading universities of technology, we now have the possibility of testing various solutions under realistic conditions in a major city that has high ambitions for its public transport.”
The basis of the program consists of two all-electric, 12 m Volvo 7900 buses, similar to the same models that Volvo already manufactures, but Volvo and NTU will build the autonomous system on Volvo’s platform. The buses will be equipped with GPS along with a laser technology-based system for charting, positioning and scanning the area around the vehicle and include automatic regulation of steering, gear changing and speed.
One of the autonomous buses will be used on Singapore’s advanced new test facility for autonomous vehicles, as researchers will work in a fenced-off area to test functionality and how the bus interacts with other road-users in various conditions.
The second bus will be used for tests in the bus depot in partnership with the public transport operator SMRT. The aim is that the buses should be able to charge their own batteries, drive through the depos to the vehicle wash and park entirely autonomously.
The cooperative program will initially last two years, with jointly developed autonomous buses expected to arrive in Singapore at the beginning of 2019. Fast-charging stations based on the OppCharge interface will be supplied by ABB.
Volvo said it has sold more than 3800 hybrid buses, electric hybrid buses and all-electric buses.