Volvo Buses and Nanyang Technological University demonstrate full size autonomous bus

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Volvo Buses and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have demonstrated what they are calling the world’s first full size autonomous electric bus.

Having already undergone preliminary rounds of testing at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous vehicles (CETRAN) in Singapore, the bus, which is Volvo’s first autonomous fully electric bus in public transportation, will soon begin trials on the campus of NTU.

There are also plans to extend the route beyond the university.

“Our electric bus featuring autonomous technology represents an important step towards our vision for a cleaner, safer and smarter city,” says Håkan Agnevall, president Volvo Buses.

“The journey towards full autonomy is undoubtedly complex, and our partnership with the NTU and LTA is critical in realizing this vision, as is our commitment to applying a safety first approach.”

Capable of carrying 85 people, the Volvo 7900 Electric bus is equipped with sensors and navigation controls that are managed by a comprehensive artificial intelligence (AI) system. Volvo notes that the AI system is protected with cyber security measures to prevent unwanted intrusions, to provide maximum safety and reliability.

The bus is also equipped with Volvo autonomous research software that is connected to key controls and multiple sensors. This software has been enhanced by NTU researchers with an AI system that communicates with sensors, which allow the bus to operate autonomously.

This incudes light detection and ranging sensors (LIDARS), 360-degree cameras and an advanced global navigation satellite system that uses real-time kinematics. According to Volvo, this is similar to any global positioning system (GPS), but it uses several data sources to give pin-point location accuracy up to one centimeter.

The system is hooked-up to an “inertial management unit,” which measures the vehicle’s lateral and angular rate, which will ultimately improve the vehicle’s navigation when going over uneven terrain, to facilitate a smooth ride.