Volvo Buses and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTU Singapore) have announced what they say is the world's first full-sized, autonomous electric bus.
The partners are collaborating on a scheme with Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) to develop and conduct autonomous vehicle bus trials for both fixed route and scheduled services.
The Volvo bus is the first of two vehicles that has undergone preliminary testing at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous vehicles at NTU (CETRAN). The partners plan to test the bus at NTU and to subsequently extend its route beyond the NTU campus.
“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,” said NTU President, Professor Subra Suresh.
The single-deck Volvo electric bus has 36 seats and capacity for almost 80 passengers. According to Volvo, it requires 80% less energy than an equivalent-sized diesel bus.
“We are very proud to be showcasing our electric bus featuring autonomous driving technology,” said Håkan Agnevall, President of Volvo Buses.
“It represents a key milestone for the industry and is an important step towards our vision for a cleaner, safer and smarter city. The journey towards full autonomy is undoubtedly a complex one, and our valued partnership with the NTU and LTA is critical in realizing this vision, as is our commitment to applying a safety-first approach.”
The vehicle is equipped with numerous sensors and navigation controls managed by an artificial intelligence system developed by NTU researchers. The system is protected with leading cybersecurity measures to prevent unwanted cyber intrusions.
“The launch of the autonomous bus for on-road trials marks an important milestone in the joint project between LTA and NTU Singapore to develop autonomous buses for fixed routes and scheduled services,” said Lam Wee Shann, LTA’s Chief Innovation and Technology Officer.
“It is in line with Singapore's vision of deploying autonomous vehicles to improve accessibility and connectivity for commuters. We will continue to work closely with NTU to facilitate the safe and robust testing of the autonomous vehicles.”
In addition to the vehicle being tested on the NTU campus, a second autonomous bus will undergo tests at a bus depot managed by Singapore’s public transport operator SMRT.