Singapore already has an autonomous taxi, truck, and shuttle bus trials going on. It is focused on becoming the vanguard of self-driving technologies. Using a pilot launch at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore is testing the world’s first full-size, autonomous electric bus in collaboration with Volvo. The electric bus is called Volvo 7900.
Volvo has been active in the autonomous driving technology sector as well. The company has tested the self-driving cars in China, incorporated self-driving trucks in the mines of Norway and sugar cane fields located in Brazil. It has even come up with designs for trucks that don’t even have a driver’s cabin.
The Volvo 7900 that is to be used in the newest trial is being called the company’s first and completely autonomous electric bus that will be serving as a means of public transportation. It is a single-decker bus and features 36 seats. However, it can house a total of around 80 passengers while utilizing 80% less energy as opposed to a bus of equal size that is powered by diesel.
The Volvo 7900 will be making use of an AI navigation software for finding its way around the campus. The bus will feature an array of advanced sensors including LIDAR, stereo-vision cameras that are capable of taking 3D imagery, and an advanced global navigation satellite system that has been reported to provide the location with an accuracy of a centimeter. The Volvo 7900 also houses an inertial measurement unit that will be tracking the bus’s angular movement for making sure that even on uneven terrains, the bus offers a smooth ride.
NTU Professor Subra Suresh said, ‘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. It will soon be tested on the NTU Smart Campus, which has been home to a number of innovations as a living test bed for technologies that impact the human condition and the quality of life.’
The Nanyang Technological University is no stranger to autonomous vehicles. It welcomed a self-driving shuttle onto the campus back in 2013. The Navia had eight seats and ran back and forth over a 2-km route. The Volvo 7900 shall be making use of 300-kW fast-charging ports that shall be affixed on infrastructure around the campus. The stations have been designed for autonomous charging and can charge the battery in about three to six minutes.
Volvo 7900 will begin its service with one unit on a fixed route at the NTU campus. Whereas, the second unit of Volvo 7900 will be put to the test by Singapore’s public transport operator SMRT. What do you think of this amazing autonomous electric bus?