The prototype for Volvo’s autonomous bus is based on Volvo’s commercially produced electric city bus, which has been modified for autonomous operation. This technology was presented on June 15 at the Volvo Ocean Race competition in Gothenburg, Sweden. to show how it can contribute to safer and more comfortable travel, as well as more efficient handling of vehicles in the depot.
“With low noise level and emission-free operation, electric bus systems provide an excellent alternative for attractive and sustainable public transport. With various degrees of automation, we can make even further progress regarding safety, comfort and efficiency. Leveraging Volvo Group technologies, we will demonstrate these opportunities for the future during the Volvo Ocean Race,” says Håkan Agnevall, President Volvo Buses.
The autonomous 12-metre bus is designed to give its passengers a safe and comfortable ride. It is programmed to accelerate and brake gently and smoothly when starting off and stopping. At bus stops, the bus always halts in exactly the same position, with the same gap between the bus and the platform for convenient entry and exit. The bus is equipped with sensors that maintain a constant watch around the vehicle.
Information from the sensors is used to navigate the vehicle, and also in the future to prevent incidents and accidents by identifying objects approaching the bus, adjusting its speed accordingly or stopping the bus. The autonomous bus is designed for gentle driving so that its operation is as energy-efficient, environmentally friendly and economical as possible.
“The technology also permits more efficient vehicle handling when the bus is not in traffic operation. With autonomous buses depot staff can focus on service and maintenance instead of having to charge the batteries, drive to the bus wash and park the bus. Tomorrow’s buses will be able to do all this on their own,” relates Håkan Agnevall.
The autonomous bus will also be used for research into bus platooning, where buses drive in close convoy in urban traffic.
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Source and photo credits: Volvo