Technology

Volvo, tech. univ. to develop autonomous electric buses in Singapore

Posted on January 16, 2018

NTU and Volvo will begin testing autonomous electric passenger buses at the CETRAN test centre from 2019 and the 40-seater buses will be equipped with GPS and integrated navigation systems that will enable it to drive, park and even charge itself. (Image: JTC)
NTU and Volvo will begin testing autonomous electric passenger buses at the CETRAN test centre from 2019 and the 40-seater buses will be equipped with GPS and integrated navigation systems that will enable it to drive, park and even charge itself. (Image: JTC)

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and Volvo Buses announced that they will begin testing autonomous electric passenger buses in Singapore in 2019.

For Volvo, this will be its first autonomous application in public transportation anywhere in the world. The 40-foot Volvo 7900 Electric bus is already in service around the world, providing a quiet and emission-free operation, and requiring 80 percent less energy than an equivalent-sized diesel bus, according to the company.

The 40-seater buses to be deployed in Singapore will be equipped with autonomous driving technologies. These include GPS and LIDAR laser technology systems for charting, positioning and detecting obstacles around the vehicle, and an integrated navigation system that includes automated steering, gear-changing, and speed-throttling technologies.

The buses will be tested from early 2019 at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous vehicles at NTU (CETRAN). The autonomous vehicle test circuit, which is modelled after real road conditions in Singapore, provides a safe and controlled environment to test autonomous vehicles.

The autonomous electric buses will be tested on campus at CETRAN, which replicates different elements of Singapore's roads, with common traffic schemes, road infrastructure, and traffic rules.

The circuit features a rain simulator and flood zone to test autonomous vehicles' navigation abilities under tropical weather conditions. It also helps improve overall safety and efficiency by allowing researchers to assess the vehicles' interaction with pedestrians.

Singapore's public transport operator SMRT will also play a critical role in determining the roadworthiness of autonomous vehicles and assist in operational trials.

One of the buses will undergo tests at a local bus depot managed by SMRT. This would test the vehicle's capabilities to autonomously navigate into vehicle washing bays and park safely at charging areas.

For the development and deployment of fast-charging stations based on the OppCharge interface, Volvo and NTU will be partnering ABB, a developer of charging solutions for electric vehicles.

The charging station is capable of providing 300kW of charging power in three to six minutes, during the layover times at the bus route's end points.


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