NTU and Volvo jointly to develop autonomous electric buses in Singapore; Volvo’s first autonomous public transportation application
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and Volvo Buses 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. Volvo has already demonstrated its autonomous technology in mining, quarry and refuse collection operations.
The 12-meter Volvo 7900 Electric bus is already in service around the world. The 40-seat buses to be deployed in Singapore will be equipped with autonomous driving technologies including GPS and LIDAR 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 modeled after real road conditions in Singapore, provides a safe and controlled environment in which to test autonomous vehicles.
The NTU and Volvo partnership is also part of the collaboration between NTU and LTA under the university’s living lab platform announced in October 2016. The living lab platform assesses technology maturity and road-worthiness, including the certification of the technologies for deployment on public roads.
The NTU-Volvo program will be supported by Singapore’s public transport operator SMRT and ABB, which will be assessing the vehicles’ roadworthiness and charging systems.
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.
One of the buses will undergo tests at a local bus depot managed by SMRT. This would test the vehicle’s capabilities to navigate autonomously 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 global leader in 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.
Volvo Buses has sold more than 3,800 hybrid buses, electric hybrid buses and all-electric buses.